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f I 







THE 



AUTO-BIOGRAPHY OF GOETHE. 



TRUTH AND POETRY: FROM MY OWN LIFE. 



TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN, 



BY 



JOHN OXENFOKD, 




THIRTEEN BOOKS, 



LONDON: 

HENRY G. BOHN, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN. 

1848. 




LONDON: 

HARRISON AND CO., PRINTERS, 
ST, MARTIN S LANE. 



ADVERTISEMENT. 



the following translation was commenced, the 
irst Ten Books had already appeared in America. It 
was the intention of the Publisher to reprint these 
without alteration, but, on comparing them with the 
)riginal, it was perceived that the American version was 
Lot sufficiently faithful, and therefore the present was 
mclertaken. The Translator, however, is bound to 
icknowledge, that he found many successful renderings 
lin the work of his predecessor, and these he has 
engrafted without hesitation. 

The title " Truth and Poetry" is adopted in common 
I with the American translation, as the nearest rendering 
of Dichtung und Wahrheit, and preferable to " Truth and 
Fiction," which has sometimes been used. The poet, by 
the expression Dichtung, did not mean that he invented 
incidents in the Auto-Biography, but merely that they 
were of a poetic or romantic character; while " Wahrheit" 
implies, that they also possessed the truth of history. 
The " Prose and Poetry of my Life" would, perhaps, 
convey to the English reader the exact meaning of the 
Author, although not literally his words. 



ERRATA. 



Page 442, line 6 from bottom, omit "that." 
451, 4 from bottom, for "theatrical," read "theoretical." 
464, 2 from the bottom, for "thus a certain," read "thus arose 

a certain." 

490, 9, for "co-operation," read "corporation." 
494, 20,/or"Dident,"raM* "Diderot." 
495, 8 from bottom, for "caricaturing," read "country." 
502, 9 from bottom, after "solitude," read "whoever resigns 

himself to it flies all opposition, and what is more 

opposed to him than," &c. 

505, 3, read "more frequently made sad than pleasant," &c. 
511, 5 from bottom, after "household," read "remedy." 



AUTHOR S PREFACE. 



As a preface to the present work, which, perhaps, more than 
another requires one, I adduce the letter of a friend, by 
which so serious an undertaking was occasioned. 

"We have now, my dear friend, collected the twelve parts of 
your poetical works, and on reading them through, find much 
that is known, much that is unknown; while much that had 
been forgotten is revived by this collection. These twelve 
volumes, standing before us, in uniform appearance, we cannot 
refrain from regarding as a whole ; and one would like to sketch 
therefrom some image of the author and his talents. But it 
cannot be denied, considering the vigour with which he began 
his literary career, and the length of time which has since 
elapsed, that a dozen small volumes must appear incommen 
surate. Nor can one forget that, with respect to the detached 
pieces, they have mostly been called forth by special occasions, 
and reflect particular external objects, as well as distinct 
grades of inward culture ; while it is equally clear, that tem 
porary moral and aesthetic maxims and convictions prevail 
in them. As a whole, however, these productions remain 
without connexion ; nay, it is often difficult to believe that 
they emanate from one and the same writer. 

" Your friends, in the meantime, have not relinquished the 
inquiry, and try, as they become more closely acquainted with 
your mode of life and thought, to guess many a riddle, to solve 
many a problem ; indeed, with the assistance of an old liking, 
and a connexion of many years standing, they find a charm 
even in the difficulties which present themselves. Yet a little 
assistance here and there would not be unacceptable, and you 
cannot well refuse this to our friendly entreaties. 

"The first thing, then, we require, is that your poetical 
works, arranged in the late edition according to some in 
ternal relations, may be presented by you in chronological 



vi AUTHOR S PREFACE. 

order, and that the states of life and feeling which ^ afforded 
the examples that influenced you, and the theoretical prin 
ciples by which you were governed, may be imparted in 
some kind of connexion. Bestow this labour for the gratifi 
cation of a limited circle, and perhaps it may give rise 
to something that will be entertaining and useful to an 
extensive one. The author, to the most advanced period 
of his life, should not relinquish the advantage of com 
municating, even at a distance^, with those whom affection 
binds to him ; and if it is not granted to every one to step 
forth anew, at a certain age, with surprising and powerful 
productions, yet just at that period of life when know 
ledge is most perfect, and consciousness most distinct, it 
must be a very agreeable and re-animating task to treat 
former creations as new matter, and work them up into a 
kind of Last Part, which may serve once more for the edifi 
cation of those who have been previously edified with and 
by the artist." 

This desire, so kindly expressed, immediately awakened 
within me an inclination to comply with it ; for, if in the 
early years of life our passions lead us to follow our own 
course, and, in order not to swerve from it, we impatiently 
repel the demands of others, so, in our later days, it becomes 
highly advantageous to us, should any sympathy excite and 
determine us, cordially, to new activity. I therefore instantly 
undertook the preparatory labour of separating the poems of 
my twelve volumes, both great and small, and of arranging 
them according to years. I strove to recall the times and 
circumstances under which each had been produced. But the 
task soon grew more difficult, as full explanatory notes and 
illustrations were necessary to fill up the chasms between those 
which had already been given to the world. For, in the first 
place, all on which I had originally exercised myself were 
wanting, many that had been begun and not finished were 
also wanting, and of many that were finished even the external 
form had completely disappeared, having since been entirely 
reworked and cast into a different shape. Besides, I had also 
to call to mind how I had laboured in the sciences and other 
arts, and what, in such apparently foreign departments, both 
individually and in conjunction with friends, I had practised 
in silence, or had laid before the piiblic. 



AUTHOR S PREFACE. vii 

All this I wished to introduce by degrees for the satisfac 
tion of my well-wishers ; but my efforts and reflections always 
led me further on ; since while I was anxious to comply with 
that very considerate request, and laboured to set forth in 
succession my internal emotions, external influences, and the 
steps which, theoretically and practically, I had trod, I was 
carried out of my narrow private sphere into the wide world. 
The images of a hundred important men, who either directly 
or indirectly had influenced me, presented themselves to my 
view ; and even the prodigious movements of the great poli 
tical world, which had operated most extensively upon me, 
as well as upon the whole mass of my contemporaries, had to 
be particularly considered. For this seems to be the main 
object of Biography, to exhibit the man in relation to the 
features of his time ; and to show to what extent they have 
opposed or favoured his progress ; what view of mankind and 
the w r orld he has formed from them, and how far he himself, 
if an artist, poet, or author, may externally reflect them. But 
for this is required what is scarcely attainable, namely, that 
the individual should know himself and his age : himself, so 
far as he has remained the same under all circumstances ; 
his age, as that which carries along with it, determines and 
fashions, both the willing and the unwilling ; so that one may 
venture to pronounce, that any person born ten years earlier 
or later would have been quite a different being, both as 
regards his own culture and his influence on others. 

In this manner, from such reflections and endeavours, from 
such recollections and considerations, arose the present deline 
ation ; and from this point of view, as to its origin, will it be 
the best enjoyed and used, and most impartially estimated. 
For anything further it may be needful to say, particularly 
with respect to the half-poetical, half-historic mode of treat 
ment, an opportunity will, no doubt, frequently occur in the 
course of the narrative. 



CONTENTS. 



PART THE FIRST. 

Page 

FIRST BOOK 

00 

SECOND BOOK 

64 
THIRD BOOK 

oo 
FOURTH BOOK 

FIFTH BOOK 135 

PART THE SECOND. 

1 81 

SIXTH BOOK 

91 8 

SEVENTH BOOK 

EIGHTH BOOK 

NINTH BOOK 303 

TENTH BOOK 

PART THE THIRD. 

ELEVENTH BOOK 

TWELFTH BOOK 

THIRTEENTH BOOK ,, .,., 



TRUTH AND POETRY; 

FROM MY OWN LIFE. 



PAET THE FIRST. 



*O pf) dapels avflptoiros ov 



FIRST BOOK. 

ON the 28th of August, 1749, at mid- day, as the clock struck 
twelve, I came into the world, at Erankfort-on-the-Maine. 
My horoscope was propitious : the sun stood in the sign of 
the Virgin, and had culminated for the day ; Jupiter and 
Venus looked on him with a friendly eye, and Mercury not 
adversely ; while Saturn and Mars kept themselves indifferent ; 
the Moon alone, just full, exerted the power of her reflection 
all the more, as she had then reached her planetary hour. 
She opposed herself, therefore, to my birth, which could not 
be accomplished until this hour was passed. 

These good aspects, which the astrologers managed subse 
quently to reckon very auspicious for me, may have been the 
causes of my preservation ; for, through the unskilfulness of 
the midwife, I came into the world as dead, and only after 
various efforts was I enabled to see the light. This event, 
which had put our household into sore straits, turned to the 
advantage of my fellow-citizens, inasmuch as my grandfather, 
the Schultheiss,* John Wolfgang Textor, took occasion from 
it to have an accoucheur established, and to introduce or 
revive the tuition of midwives, which may have done some 
good to those who were born after me. 

When we desire to recall what befel vis in the earliest 
period of youth, it often happens that w r e confound what we 
have heard from others with that which we really possess from 
our own direct experience. Without, therefore, instituting a 
very close investigation into the point, which after all could 

* A chief judge or magistrate of the town, 

B 



2 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

lead to nothing, I am conscious that we lived in an old house, 
which in fact consisted of two adjoining houses, that had 
been opened into each other. A spiral stair- case led to rooms 
on different levels, and the unevenness of the stories was 
remedied by steps. For us children, a younger sister and 
myself, the favourite resort was a spacious floor below, near 
the door of which was a large wooden lattice that allowed us 
direct communication with the street and open air. A bird 
cage of this sort, with which many houses were provided, was 
called a Frame (Gercims). The women sat in it to sew and 
knit ; the cook picked her salad there ; female neighbours 
chatted with each other, and the streets consequently in the 
fine season wore a southern aspect. One felt at ease while 
in communication with the public. We children, too, by 
means of these frames, were brought into contact with our 
neighbours, of whom three brothers Yon Ochsenstein, the 
surviving sons of the deceased Schultheiss, living on the other 
side of the way, won my love, and occupied and diverted 
themselves with me in many ways. 

Our family liked to tell of all sorts of waggeries to which I 
was enticed by these otherwise grave and solitary men. Let 
one of these pranks suffice for all. A crockery fair had just 
been held, from which not only our kitchen had been supplied 
for a while with articles for a long time to come, but a great 
deal of small gear of the same ware had been purchased as 
playthings for us children. One fine afternoon, when every 
thing was quiet in the house, I whiled away the time with 
my pots and dishes in the Frame, and finding that nothing 
more was to be got out of them, hurled one of them into the 
street. The Yon Ochsensteins, who saw me so delighted at 
the fine smash it made, that I clapped my hands for joy, cried 
out, "Another." I was not long in flinging out a pot, and as 
they made no end to their calls for more, by degrees the 
whole collection, platters, pipkins, mugs and all, were dashed 
upon the pavement. My neighbours continued to express 
their approbation, and I was highly delighted to give them 
pleasure. But my stock was exhausted, and still they shouted, 
" More." I ran, therefore, straight to the kitchen, and 
brought the earthenware, which produced a still livelier spec 
tacle in breaking, and thus I kept running backwards and 
forwards, fetching one plate after another as I could reach it 



THE STAG-DITCH. 3 

from where they stood in rows on the shelf. But as that did 
not satisfy my audience, I devoted all the ware that I could 
drag out to similar destruction. It was not till afterwards 
that any one appeared to hinder and save. The mischief was 
done, and in place of so much broken crockery, there was at 
least a ludicrous story, in which the roguish authors took 
special delight to the end of their days. 

My father s mother, in whose house we properly dwelt, 
lived in a large back-room directly on the ground floor, and 
we were accustomed to carry on our sports even up to her 
chair, and when she w^as ill, up to her bedside. I remember 
her, as it were, a spirit, a handsome, thin woman, always 
neatly dressed in white. Mild, gentle, and kind, she has ever 
remained in my memory. 

The street in which our house was situated passed by the 
name of the Stag-Ditch; but as neither stags nor ditches 
were to be seen, we wished to have the expression explained. 
They told us that our house stood on a spot that was once 
outside the city, and that where the street now ran had 
formerly been a ditch, in which a number of stags were kept. 
These stags were preserved and fed here because the senate 
every year, according to an ancient custom, feasted publicly 
on a stag, which was therefore always at hand in the ditch 
for such a festival, in case princes or knights interfered with 
the city s right of chase outside, or the walls were encom 
passed or besieged by an enemy. This pleased us much, and 
we wished that such a lair for tame animals could have been 
seen in our times. 

The back of the house, from the second story particularly, 
commanded a very pleasant prospect over an almost immea 
surable extent of neighbouring gardens, stretching to the very 
walls of the city. But, alas ! in transforming what were once 
public grounds into private gardens, our house and some 
others lying towards the corner of the street had been much 
stinted, since the houses towards the horse-market had appro 
priated spacious out-houses and large gardens to themselves, 
while a tolerably high wall shut us out from these adjacent 
paradises. 

On the second floor was a room which was called the gar 
den-room, because they had there endeavoured to supply the 
want of a garden by means of a few plants placed before the 

B 2 



4 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

window. As I grew older, it was there that I made my 
favourite, not melancholy but somewhat sentimental, retreat. 
Over these gardens, beyond the city s walls and ramparts, 
might be seen a beautiful and fertile plain ; the same which 
stretches towards Hochst. In. the summer season I commonly 
learned my lessons there, and watched the thunder-storms, but 
could never look my fill at the setting sun, which went down 
directly opposite my windows. And when, at the same time, 
I saw the neighbours wandering through their gardens taking 
care of their flowers, the children playing, parties of friends 
enjoying themselves, and could hear the bowls rolling and the 
nine pins dropping, it early excited within me a feeling of 
solitude, and a sense of vague longing resulting from it, 
which, conspiring with the seriousness and awe implanted in 
me by Nature, exerted its influence at an early age, and 
showed itself more distinctly in after years. 

The old, many cornered, and gloomy arrangement of the 
house was moreover adapted to awaken dread and terror 
in childish minds. Unfortunately, too, the principle of dis 
cipline that young persons should be early deprived of all 
fear for the awful and invisible, and accustomed to the terrible, 
still prevailed. We children, therefore, were compelled to 
sleep alone, and when we found this impossible, and softly 
slipped from our beds to seek the society of the servants and 
maids, our father, with his dressing-gown turned inside out. 
which disguised him sufficiently for the purpose, placed him 
self in the way, and frightened us, back to our resting-places. 
The evil effect of this any one may "imagine. How is he who 
is encompassed with a double terror to be emancipated from 
fear? My mother, always cheerful and gay, and willing to 
render others so, discovered a much better pedagogical expe 
dient. She managed to gain her end by rewards. It was 
the season, for peaches, the plentiful enjoyment of which she 
promised us every morning if we overcame our fears during 
the night. In this way she succeeded, and both parties were 
satisfied. 

In the interior of the house my eyes were chiefly attracted 
by a series of lioman Views, with which my father had orna 
mented an ante-room. They were engravings by some of the 
accomplished predecessors of Piranesi, who well understood 
perspective and architecture, and whose touches were clear 



THE PUPPET-SHOW. 5 

and excellent. There I saw every day, the Piazza del Popolo, 
the Colosseum, the Piazza of St. Peter s and St. Peter s Church, 
within and without, the castle of St. Angelo, and many other 
places. These images impressed themselves deeply upon me, 
and my otherwise very laconic father was often so kind as to 
furnish descriptions of the objects. His partiality for the 
Italian language, and for every thing pertaining to Italy, was 
very decided. A small collection of marbles and natural 
curiosities, which he had brought with him thence, he often 
showed to us ; and he devoted a great part of his time to a 
description of his travels, written in Italian, the copying and 
correction of which he slowly and accurately completed, in 
several parcels, with his own hand. A lively old teacher of 
Italian, called Giovinazzi, was of sendee to him in this work. 
The old man moreover did not sing badly, and my mother 
every day must needs accompany him and herself upon the 
clavichord, and thus I speedily learned the Solitario bosco om- 
Iroso so as to know it by heart before I understood it. 

My father was altogether of a didactic turn, and in his 
retirement from business liked to communicate to others what 
he knew or was able to do. Thus, during the first years of 
their marriage, he had kept my mother busily engaged in 
writing, playing the clavichord, and singing, by which means 
she had been laid under the necessity of acquiring some 
knowledge and a slight readiness in the Italian tongue. 

Generally we passed all our leisure hours with my grand 
mother, in whose spacious apartment we found plenty at 
room for our sports. She contrived to engage us with various 
trifles, and to regale us with all sorts of nice morsels. But 
one Christmas evening, she crowned all her kind deeds, by 
having a puppet-show exhibited before us, and thus unfolding 
a new world in the old house. This unexpected drama 
attracted our young minds with great force ; upon the Boy 
particularly it made a very strong impression, which con 
tinued to vibrate with a great and lasting effect. 

The little stage with its speechless personages, which at 
the outset had only been exhibited to us, but was afterwards 
given over for our own use and dramatic vivification, was 
prized more highly by us children, as it was the last bequest 
of our good grandmother, whom encroaching disease first 
withdrew from our sight, and death next tore away from our 



6 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

hearts for ever. Her departure was of still more importance 
to our family, as it drew after it a complete change in our 
condition. 

As long as my grandmother lived, my father had refrained 
from any attempt to change or renovate the house, even in the 
slightest particular, though it was known that he had pretty 
large plans of building, which were now immediately begun. 
In Frankfort, as in many other old towns, when anybody put 
up a wooden structure, he ventured, for the sake of space, to 
make not only the first, but each successive story project 
over the lower one, by which means narrow streets especially 
were rendered somewhat dark and confined. At last a law 
was passed, that every one putting up a new house from the 
ground, should confine his projections to the first upper story, 
and carry the others up perpendicularly. My father, that he 
might not lose the projecting space in the second story, caring 
little for outward architectural appearance, and anxious only 
for the good and convenient arrangement of the interior, 
resorted to the expedient which others had employed before 
him, of propping the upper part of the house, until one part 
after another had been removed from the bottom upwards, 
and a new house, as it were, inserted in its place. Thus, 
while comparatively none of the old structure remained, the 
new one merely passed for a repair. Now as the tearing down 
and building up was done gradually, my father determined 
not to quit the house, that he might better direct and give 
his orders as he possessed a good knowledge of the techni 
calities of building. At the same time he would not suffer his 
family to leave him. This new epoch was very surprising and 
strange for the children. To see the rooms in which they 
had so often been confined and pestered with wearisome tasks 
and studies, the passages they had played in, the walls which 
had always been kept so carefully dean, all falling before the 
mason s hatchet and the carpenter s axe and that from the 
bottom upwards ; to float as it were in the air, propped up by 
beams, being, at the same time, constantly confined to a 
certain lesson, or definite task all this produced a commo 
tion in our young heads that was not easily settled. But the 
young people felt the inconvenience less, because they had 
somewhat more space for play than before, and had many 
opportunities of swinging on beams, and playing at see-saw 
with the boards. 



THE WALK HOUND FEANKFORT. 7 

\ 

At first my father obstinately persisted in carrying out his 
plan ; but when at last even the roof was partly removed, and 
the rain reached our beds, in spite of the carpets that had 
been taken up, converted into tarpaulin, and stretched over 
as a defence, he determined, though reluctantly, that the 
children should be entrusted for a time to some kind friends, 
who had already offered their services, and sent to a public 
school. 

This transition was rather unpleasant ; for when the chil 
dren who had all along been kept at home in a secluded, 
pure, refined, yet strict manner, were thrown among a rude 
mass of young creatures, they were compelled unexpectedly to 
suffer everything froni the vulgar, bad, and even base, since 
they lacked both weapons and skill to protect themselves. 

It was properly about this period that I first became ac 
quainted with my native city, which I strolled over with more 
and more freedom, in every direction, sometimes alone, and 
sometimes in the company of lively companions. To convey to 
others in any degree the impression made upon me by these 
grave and revered spots, I must here introduce a description 
of my birth-place, as in its different parts it w^as gradually 
unfolded to me. I loved more than anything else to pro 
menade on the great bridge over the Maine. Its length, its 
firmness, and its fine appearance, rendered it a notable struc 
ture, and it was, besides, almost the only memorial left from 
ancient times of the precautions due from the civil govern 
ment to its citizens. The beautiful stream above and below 
bridge, attracted my eye, and when the gilt weathercock on 
the bridge-cross glittered in the sunshine, I always had a 
pleasant feeling. Generally I extended my walk through 
Sachsenhausen, and for a Kreutzer was ferried comfortably 
across the river. I was now again on this side of the stream, 
stole along to the wine market, and admired the mechanism 
of the cranes when goods were unloaded. But it was par 
ticularly entertaining to watch the arrival of the market-boats, 
from which so many and such extraordinary figures were seen 
to disembark. On entering the city, the Saalhof, w^hich at 
least stood on the spot where the Castle of Emperor Charle 
magne and his successors was reported to have been, was 
greeted every time with profound reverence. One liked to 
lose oneself in the old trading town, particularly on market- 



8 TRUTH AKD POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

days, among the crowd collected about the church of St. Bar 
tholomew. From the earliest times, throngs of buyers and 
sellers had gathered there, and the place being thus occupied, 
it was not easy in later days to bring about a more roomy and 
cheerful arrangement. The booths of the so-called Pfarreism 
were very important places for us children, and we carried 
many a Bafaen to them in order to purchase sheets of coloured 
paper stamped with gold animals. But seldom, however, 
could one make one s way through the narrow, crowded, and 
dirty market-place. I call to mind, also, that I always flew 
past the adjoining meat-stalls, narrow and disgusting as they 
were, in perfect horror. On the other hand, the Roman Hill 
(T&merberg) was a most delightful place for walking. The 
way to the New-Town, along by the new shops, was always- 
cheering and pleasant ; yet we regretted that a street did not 
lead directly towards the Church of the Holy Virgin, and that 
we always had to go a round-about way by the Haseiigasse, 
or the Catherine Gate. But what chiefly attracted the child s 
attention, were the many little towns within the town, the 
fortresses within the fortress ; viz., the walled monastic en 
closures, and several other precincts, remaining from earlier 
times, and more or less like castles as the Nuremberg Court, 
the Compostella, the Braunfels, the ancestral house of the 
family of Stailburg, and several strongholds, in later days 
transformed into dwellings and warehouses. No architecture 
of an elevating kind was then to be seen in Frankfort, and 
every thing pointed to a period long past and unquiet, both 
for town and district. Gates and towers, which defined the 
bounds of the old city, then further on again, gates, towers, 
walls, bridges, ramparts, moats, with which the new city was 
encompassed, all showed, but too plainly, that a necessity 
for guarding the common weal in disastrous times had in 
duced these arrangements, that all the squares and streets, 
even the newest, broadest, and best laid out, owed their 
origin to chance and caprice and not to any regulating mind. 
A certain liking for the antique was thus implanted in the 
Boy, and was specially nourished and promoted by old chro 
nicles and wood-cuts, as for instance, those of Grave relating 
to the siege of Frankfort. At the same time a different taste 
was developed in him for observing the conditions of man 
kind, in their manifold variety and naturalness, without 



THE COUNCIL-HOUSE. 9 

regard to their importance or beaut} 7 ". It was, therefore, one 
of our favourite walks, which we endeavoured to take now 
and then in the course of a year, to follow the circuit of the 
path inside the city walls. Gardens, courts, and back build 
ings extend to the Zwinger ; and we saw many thousand 
people amid their little domestic and secluded circumstances. 
From the ornamental and show gardens of the rich, to the 
orchards of the citizen, anxious about his necessities from 
thence to the factories, bleaching-grounds, and similar esta 
blishments, even to the burying-grounds for a little world 
lay within the limits of the city- we passed a varied, strange, 
spectacle, which changed at every step, and with the enjoy 
ment of which our childish curiosity was never satisfied. In 
fact, the celebrated Devil-upon-two-sticks, when he lifted the 
roofs of Madrid at night, scarcely did more for his friend, 
than was here done for us in the bright sunshine and open air. 
The keys that were to be made use of in this journey, to 
gain us a passage through many a tower, stair and postern, 
were in the hands of the authorities, whose subordinates we 
never failed to coax into good-humour. 

But a more important, and in one sense more fruitful place 
for us, was the Council-House, named from the Komans. In 
its lower vault-like halls we liked but too well to lose our 
selves. We obtained an entrance, too, into the large and 
very simple session-room of the Council. The walls as well 
as the arched ceiling were white, though wainscotted to a 
certain height, and the whole was without a trace of painting, 
or any kind of carved work ; only, high up on the middle 
wall, might be read this brief inscription : 

" One man s word is no man s word, 
Justice needs that both be heard." 

After the most ancient fashion, benches were ranged around 
the wainscotting, and raised one step above the floor for the 
accommodation of the members of the assembly. This readily 
suggested to us why the order of rank in our senate was dis 
tributed by benches. To the left of the door, on the oppo 
site corner, sat the Schoffen ; in the corner itself the Schult- 
heiss, who alone had a small table before him ; those of the 
second bench sat in the space to his left as far as the wall to 
where the windows were ; while along the windows ran the 



10 TEUTH AND POETEY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

third bench, occupied by the craftsmen. In the midst of the 
hall stood a table for the registrar (Protoculfuhrer}. 

Once within the Romer, we even mingled with the crowd 
at the audiences of the burgomasters. But whatever related 
to the election and coronation of the Emperors possessed a 
greater charm. We managed to gain the favour of the 
keepers, so as to be allowed to mount the new gay imperial 
staircase, which was painted in fresco, and on other occasions 
closed with a grating. The election- chamber, with its purple 
hangings and admirably-fringed gold borders, filled us with 
awe. The representations of animals on which little children 
or genii, clothed in the imperial ornaments and laden with 
the insignia of the Empire, made a curious figure, were 
observed by us with great attention; and we even hoped 
that we might live to see, some time or other, a coronation 
with our own eyes. They had great difficulty to get us out 
of the great imperial hall, when we had been once fortunate 
enough to steal in ; and we reckoned him our truest friend 
who, while we looked at the half-lengths of all the emperors 
painted around at a certain height, would tell us something 
of their deeds. 

We listened to many a legend of Charlemagne. But that 
which was historically interesting for us began with Rudolph 
of Hapsburg, who by his courage put an end to such violent 
commotions. Charles the Fourth also attracted our notice. 
We had already heard of the Golden Bull, and of the statutes 
for the administration of criminal justice. We knew, too, that 
he had not made the Frankforters suffer for their adhesion to 
his noble rival, Emperor Gunther of Schwarzburg. We heard 
Maximilian praised both as a friend to mankind, and to the 
townsmen, his subjects, and were also told that it had been 
prophesied of him he would be the last Emperor of a German 
house ; which unhappily came to pass, as after his death the 
choice wavered only between the King of Spain, (afterwards) 
Charles V., and the King of France, Francis I. With some 
anxiety it was added, that a similar prophecy, or rather in 
timation, was once more in circulation; for it was obvious 
that there was room left for the portrait of only one more 
emperor a circumstance which, though seemingly accidental, 
filled the patriotic with concern. 

Having once entered upon this circuit, we did not fail to 



IMPERIAL CORONATIONS. 11 

repair to the cathedral, and there visit the grave o that brave 
Gunther, so much prized both by friend and foe. The famous 
stone which formerly covered it is set up in the choir. The 
door close by, leading into the conclave, remained long shut 
against us, until we at last managed through the higher 
authorities, to gain access to this celebrated place. But we 
should have done better had we continued as before to picture 
it merely in our imagination ; for we found this room, which 
is so remarkable in German history, where the most powerful 
princes were accustomed to meet for an act so momentous, in 
xio respect worthily adorned, and even disfigured with beams, 
poles, scaffolding, and similar lumber, which people had 
wanted to put out of the way. The imagination, for that 
very reason, was the more excited and the heart elevated, 
when we soon after received permission to be present in the 
Council-House, at the exhibition of the Golden Bull to some 
distinguished strangers. 

The Boy then heard, with much curiosity, what his own 
family, as well as other older relations and acquaintances, 
liked to tell and repeat, viz., the histories of the two last 
coronations, which had followed close upon each other ; for 
there was no Frankforter of a certain age who would not 
have regarded these two events, and their attendant circum 
stances, as the crowning glory of his whole life. Splendid as 
had been the coronation of Charles Seventh, during which 
particularly the French Ambassador had given magnificent 
feasts at great cost and with distinguished taste, the results 
were all the more afflicting to the good Emperor, who could 
not preserve his capital Munich, and was compelled in some 
degree to implore the hospitality of his imperial towns. 

If the coronation of Francis First was not so strikingly 
splendid as the former one, it was dignified by the presence 
of the Empress Maria Theresa, whose beauty appears to have 
created as much impression on the men, as the earnest and 
noble form and the blue eyes of Charles Seventh on the 
women. At any rate, the sexes rivalled each other in giving 
to the attentive Boy a highly favourable opinion of both these 
personages. All these descriptions and narratives were given 
in a serene and quiet state of mind ; for the peace of Aix-la- 
Chapelle had, for the moment, put an end to all feuds ; and 
they spoke at their ease of past contests, as well as of their 



12 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

former festivities the battle of Dettingen, for instance, and 
other remarkable events of by-gone years ; and all that was 
important or dangerous seemed, as generally happens when a 
peace has been concluded, to have occurred only to afford 
entertainment to prosperous and unconcerned people. 

Half a year had scarcely passed away in this narrow 
patriotism before the fairs began, which always produced an 
incredible ferment in the heads of all children. The erection, 
in so short a time, of so many booths, creating a new town 
within the old one, the roll and crush, the unloading and 
unpacking of wares, excited from the very first dawn of con 
sciousness an insatiable active curiosity and a boundless 
desire for childish property, which the Boy with increasing 
years endeavoured to gratify, in one way or another, as far as 
his little purse permitted. At the same time he obtained a 
notion of what the world produces, what it wants, and what 
the inhabitants of its different parts exchange with each 
other. 

These great epochs, which came round regularly in spring 
and autumn, were announced by curious solemnities, which 
seemed the more dignified because they vividly brought 
before us the old time, and what had come down from it to 
ourselves. On Escort-day, the whole population were on 
their legs, thronging to the Fahrgasse, to the bridge, and 
beyond Sachsenhausen ; all the windows were occupied, though 
nothing unusual took place on that day ; the crowd seeming 
to be there only for the sake of jostling each other, and the 
spectators merely to look at one another ; for the real occa 
sion of their coming did not begin till nightfall, and was then 
rather taken upon trust than seen with the eyes. 

The affair was thus : in those old, unquiet times, when every 
one did wrong according to his pleasure, or helped the right 
as his liking led him, traders on. their way to the fairs were 
so wilfully beset and harassed by waylay ers, both of noble and 
ignoble birth, that princes and other persons of power caused 
their people to be accompanied to Frankfort by an arme(J 
escort. Now the burghers of the imperial city would yield 
no rights pertaining to themselves or their district ; they went 
out to meet the advancing party ; and thus contests often arose 
as to how far the escort should advance, or whether it had a 
right to enter the city at all. But, as this took place, not only 



THE "PIPER S COUET." 13 

ill regard to matters of trade and fairs, but also when high 
personages came, in times of peace or war, and especially on 
the days of election ; and as the affair often came to blows 

/ 

when a train which was not to be endured in the city strove 
to make its way in along with its lord, many negotiations had 
from time to time been resorted to, and many temporary 
arrangements concluded, though always with reservations of 
rights on both sides. The hope had not been relinquished of 
composing once for all a quarrel that had already lasted for 
centuries, inasmuch as the whole institution, on account of 
which it had been so long and often so hotly contested, might 
be looked upon as nearly useless, or at least as superfluous. 

Meanwhile, on those days, the city cavalry in several divi 
sions, each having a commander in front, rode forth from 
different gates and found on a certain spot some troopers or 
hussars of the persons entitled to an escort, who with their 
leaders were well received and entertained. They stayed till 
towards evening, and then rode back to the city, -scarcely 
visible to the expectant crowd, many a city knight not being 
in a condition to manage his horse, or keep himself in the 
saddle. The most important bands returned by the bridge- 
gate, where the pressure was consequently the strongest. Last 
of all, just as night fell, the Nuremberg post-coach arrived, 
escorted in the same way, and always containing, as the 
people fancied, in pursuance of custom, an old woman. Its 
arrival, therefore, was a signal for all the urchins to break out 
into an ear-splitting shout, though it was utterly impossible to 
distinguish any one of the passengers within. The throng 
that pressed after the coach through the bridge-gate was quite 
incredible, and perfectly bewildering to the senses. The houses 
nearest the bridge were those, therefore, most in demand 
among spectators. 

Another more singular ceremony, by which the people were 
excited in broad daylight, was the Piper s-court (Pfeifer- 
gerichf). It commemorated those early times when important 
larger trading-towns endeavoured, if not to abolish tolls alto 
gether, at least to bring about a reduction of them, as they 
increased in proportion with trade and industry. They- were 
allowed this privilege by the Emperor who needed their aid, 
when it was in his power to grant it, but commonly only for 
one year ; so that it had to be annually renewed. This was 



14 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LITE. 

effected by means of symbolical gifts, which were presented 
before the opening of St. Bartholomew s Fair to the imperial 
magistrate (Schultheiss], who might have sometimes been the 
chief toll-gatherer ; and, for the sake of a more imposing 
show, the gifts were offered when he was sitting in full court 
with the Schoffen. But when the chief magistrate afterwards 
came to be no longer appointed by the Emperor, and was 
elected by the city itself, he still retained these privileges ; 
and thus both the immunities of the cities from toll, and the 
ceremonies by which the representatives from Worms, Nurem 
berg, and Old Bamberg once acknowledged the ancient 
favour, had come down to our times. The day before Lady- 
day, an open court was proclaimed. In an enclosed space in 
the great Imperial Hall, the Schoffen took their elevated seats ; 
a step higher, sat the Schultheiss in the midst of them ; while 
below on the right hand, were the procurators of both parties 
invested with plenipotentiary powers. The Actuarius begins to 
read aloud the weighty judgments reserved for this day ; the 
lawyers demand copies, appeal, or do whatever else seems neces 
sary. All at once a singular sort of music announces, if we may 
so speak, the advent of former centuries. It proceeds from 
three pipers, one of whom plays an old shawm, another a sack- 
"but, and the third a pommer, or oboe. They wear blue mantles 
trimmed with gold, having the notes made fast to their sleeves, 
and their heads covered. Having thus left their inn at ten 
o clock, followed by the deputies and their attendants, and 
stared at by all, natives and strangers, they enter the hall. 
The law proceedings are stayed the pipers and their train 
halt before the railing the deputy steps in and stations him 
self in front of the Schultheiss. The emblematic presents, 
which were required to be precisely the same as in the old 
precedents, consisted commonly of the staple wares of the 
city offering them. Pepper passed, as it were, for everything 
else ; and, even on this occasion, the deputy brought a hand 
somely turned wooden goblet filled with pepper. Upon it lay 
a pair of gloves, curiously slashed, stitched, and tasseled with 
silk a token of a favour granted and received such as the 
Emperor himself made use of in certain cases. Along with 
this was a white staff, which in former times was not easily 
dispensable in judicial proceedings. Some small pieces of 
silver money were added ; and the city of Worms brought an 



SUMMER AMUSEMENTS. 15 

old felt hat, which was always redeemed again, so that the 
same one had been a witness of these ceremonies for many 
years. 

After the deputy had made his address, handed over his 
present, and received from the Schultheiss assurance of con 
tinued favour, he quitted the enclosed circle, the pipers blew, 
the train departed as it had come, the court pursued its busi 
ness, until the second and at last the third deputy had been 
introduced. For each came some time after the other ; partly 
that the pleasure of the public might thus be prolonged, 
and partly because they were always the same antiquated 
virtuosi whom Nuremberg, for itself and its co-cities, had 
undertaken to maintain and produce annually at the appointed 
place. 

We children were particularly interested in this festival, 
because we were not a little flattered to see our grandfather in 
a place of so much honour ; and because commonly, on the 
self-same day, we used to visit him, quite modestly, in order 
that we might, when my grandmother had emptied the pepper 
into her spice box, lay hold of a cup or small rod, a pair of 
gloves or an old Rdder Albus* These symbolical ceremonies, 
restoring antiquity as if by magic, could not be explained to 
us without leading us back into past times and informing us 
of the manners, customs, and feelings of those early ancestors 
who were so strangely made present to us, by pipers and 
deputies seemingly risen from the dead, and by tangible gifts, 
which might be possessed by ourselves. 

These venerable solemnities were followed, in the fine sea 
son, by many festivals, delightful for us children, which took 
place in the open air, outside of the city. On the right shore 
of the Maine going down, about half an hour s walk from the 
gate, there rises a sulphur-spring, neatly enclosed and sur 
rounded by aged lindens. Not far from it stands the Good- 
People s- Court , formerly a hospital erected for the sake of the 
waters. On the commons around, the herds of cattle from the 
neighbourhood were collected on a certain day of the year ; 
and the herdsmen, together with their sweethearts, celebrated 
a rural festival, with dancing and singing, with all sorts of 
pleasure and clownishness. On the other side of the city lay 

* An old silver coin. 



16 TRUTH AND POETBY ; FE.OM MY OWN LIFE. 

a similar but larger common, likewise graced with a spring 
and still finer lindens. Thither, at Whitsuntide, the flocks of 
sheep were driven; and, at the same time, the poor, pale 
orphan children were allowed to come out of their walls into 
the open air ; for the thought had not yet occurred that these 
destitute creatures, who must some time or other help them 
selves through the world, ought soon to be brought in contact 
with it; that instead of being kept in dreary confinement, 
they should rather be accustomed to serve and to endure ; and 
that there was every reason to strengthen them physically and 
morally from their infancy. The nurses and maids, always 
ready to take a walk, never failed to carry or conduct us to 
such places, even in our first years ; so that these rural festi 
vals belong to the earliest impressions that I can recall. 

Meanwhile, our house had been finished, and that too in 
tolerably short time, because everything had been judiciously 
planned and prepared, and the needful money provided. We 
now found ourselves all together again, and felt comfortable : 
for, when a well-considered plan is once carried out, we forget 
the various inconveniences of the means that were necessary 
to its accomplishment. The building, for a private residence, 
was roomy enough ; light and cheerful throughout, with broad 
staircases, agreeable parlours, and a prospect of the gardens 
that could be enjoyed easily from several of the windows. 
The internal completion, and what pertained to mere orna 
ment and finish, was gradually accomplished, and served at 
the same time for occupation and amusement. 

The first thing brought into order was my father s collec 
tion of books, the best of which, in calf and half-calf bind 
ing, were to ornament the walls of his office and study. He 
possessed the beautiful Dutch editions of the Latin classics, 
which for the sake of outward uniformity he had endeavoured 
to procure all in quarto ; and also many other works relat 
ing to Roman antiquities, and the more elegant jurispru 
dence. The most eminent Italian poets were not wanting, 
and for Tasso he showed a great predilection. There were 
also the best and most recent Travels ; and he took great 
delight in correcting and completing Keyssler and Nemeiz 
from them. Nor had he omitted to surround himself with all 
needful assistants to learning, such as dictionaries of various 
languages, and encyclopedias of science and art, which with 



ARTISTS. 17 

much else adapted to profit and amusement, might be con 
sulted at will. 

The other half of this collection, in neat parchment bind 
ings, with very beautifully written titles, was placed in a 
separate attic. The acquisition of new books, as well as their 
binding and arrangement, he pursued with great composure 
and love of order : and he was much influenced in his opinion 
by the critical notices that ascribed particular merit to any 
work. His collection of juridical treatises was annually in 
creased by some volumes. 

Next, the pictures, which in the old house had hung about 
promiscuously, were now collected and symmetrically hung on 
the walls of a cheerful room near the study, all in black 
frames, set off with gilt mouldings. My father had a prin 
ciple, which he often and strongly expressed, that one ought to 
employ the living Masters, and to spend less upon the departed, 
in the estimation of whom prejudice greatly concurred. He 
had the notion that it was precisely the same with pictures 
as with Rhenish wines, which, though age may impart to them 
a higher value, can be produced in any coming year of just as 
excellent quality as in years past. After the lapse of some 
time, the new wine also becomes old, quite as valuable and 
perhaps more delicious. This opinion he chiefly confirmed by 
the observation that many old pictures seemed to derive their 

chief value for lovers of art from the fact that thev had 

\> 

become darker and browner ; and that the harmony of tone 
in such pictures was often vaunted. My father, on the other 
hand, protested that he had no fear that the new pictures 
would not also turn black in time, though whether they were 
likely to gain anything by this he was not so positive. 

In pursuance of these principles, he employed for many 
years the whole of the Frankfort artists : the painter HIRT, 
who excelled in animating oak and beech woods, and other so- 
called rural scenes, with cattle ; TnAUTMA]sr]s T , who had 
adopted Rembrandt as his model, and had attained great per 
fection in inclosed lights and reflections, as well as in effective 
conflagrations, so that he was once ordered to paint a com 
panion-piece to a llembrandt ; SCTITJTZ, who diligently elabo 
rated landscapes of the Rhine country, in the manner of 
SACHTLEBENS ; and JUNKER, who executed with great purity 
flower and fruit pieces, still life, and figures quietly employed, 

c 



18 TRUTH AND POETKY; PKOM: MY OWN LIFE. 

after the models of the Dutch. But now, by the new arrange 
ment, by more convenient room, and still more by the acquaint 
ance of a skilful artist, our love of art was again quickened and 
animated. This artist was SEEKATZ, a pupil of Brinkmann, 
court-painter at Darmstadt, whose talent and character will be 
more minutely unfolded in the sequel. 

In this way, the remaining rooms were finished, according 
to their several purposes. Cleanliness and order prevailed 
throughout. Above all, the large panes of plate-glass contri 
buted towards a perfect lightness, which had been wanting in 
the old house for many causes, but chiefly on account of the 
panes, which were for the most part round. My father was 
cheerful on account of the success of his undertaking, and if 
his good humour had not been often interrupted because the 
diligence and exactness of the mechanics did not come up to 
his wishes, a happier life than ours could not have been con 
ceived, since much good partly arose in the family itself, and 
partly flowed from without. 

But an extraordinary event deeply disturbed the Boy s peace 
of mind, for the first time. On the 1st of November, 1755, 
the earthquake at Lisbon took place, and spread a prodigious 
alarm over the world, long accustomed to peace and quiet. 
A great and magnificent capital, which was, at the same time, 
a trading and mercantile city, is smitten, without warning, by 
a most fearful calamity. The earth trembles and totters, the 
sea roars up, ships dash together, houses fall in, and over them 
churches and towers, the royal palace is in part swallowed by 
the waters, the bursting land seems to vomit flames, since 
smoke and fire are seen everywhere amid the ruins. Sixty 
thousand persons, a moment before in ease and comfort, fall 
together, and he is to be deemed most fortunate who is no 
longer capable of a thought or feeling about the disaster. 
The flames rage on, and with them rage a troop of despera 
does, before concealed, or set at large by the event. The 
wretched survivors are exposed to pillage, massacre, and every 
outrage : and thus, on all sides, Nature asserts her boundless 
capriciousness. 

Intimations of this event had spread over wide regions 
more quickly than the authentic reports : slight shocks had been 
felt in many places : in many springs, particularly those of a 
mineral nature, an unusual receding of the waters had been 



EARTHQUAKE AT LISBON. 19 

remarked; and so much the greater was the effect of the 
accounts themselves, which were rapidly circulated, at first in 
general terms, but finally with dreadful particulars. Here 
upon, the religious were neither wanting in reflections, nor 
the philosophic in grounds for consolation, nor the clergy in 
warnings. So complicated an event arrested the attention of 
the world for a long time ; and, as additional and more de 
tailed accounts of the extensive effects of this explosion came 
from every quarter, the minds already aroused by the misfor 
tunes of strangers, began to be more and more anxious about 
themselves and their friends. Perhaps the demon of terror 
had never so speedily and powerfully diffused his terrors over 
the earth. 

The Boy, who was compelled to put up with frequent repe 
titions of the whole matter, was not a little staggered. God, 
the Creator and Preserver of Heaven and Earth, whom the 
explanation of the first article of the Creed declared so wise 
and benignant, having given both the just and the unjust a 
prey to the same destruction, had not manifested Himself, by 
any means, in a fatherly character. In vain the young mind 
strove to resist these impressions. It was the more impossible, 
as the wise and scripture-learned could not themselves agree as 
to the light in which such a phenomenon should be regarded. 

The next summer gave a closer opportunity of knowing 
directly that angry God, of whom the Old Testament records 
so much. A sudden hail-storm, accompanied by thunder and 
lightning, violently broke the new panes at the back of our 
house, which looked towards the west, damaged the new fur 
niture, destroyed some valuable books and other things of 
worth, and was the more terrible to the children, as the whole 
household, quite beside themselves, dragged them into a dark 
passage, where, on their knees, with frightful groans and cries, 
they thought to conciliate the wrathful Deity. Meanwhile, 
my father, who was alone self-possessed, forced open and un 
hinged the window-frames, by which we saved much glass, 
but made a broader inlet for the rain that followed the hail, 
so that after we were finally quieted, we found ourselves in the 
rooms and on the stairs completely surrounded by floods and 
streams of water. 

These events, startling as they were on the whole, did not 
greatly interrupt the course of instruction which my father 

c 2 



20 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

himself had undertaken to give us children. He had passed 
his youth in the Coboiirg Gymnasium, which stood as one of 
the first among German educational institutions. He had 
there laid a good foundation in languages, and other matters 
reckoned part of a learned education, had subsequently applied 
himself to jurisprudence at Leipzig, and had at last taken his 
degree at Giessen. His dissertation, " Electa de aditione 
Hereditatis" which had been earnestly and carefully written, 
is yet cited by jurists with approval. 

It is a pious wish of all fathers to see what they have them 
selves failed to attain, realized in their sons, as if in this way 
they could live their lives over again, and, at last, make a 
proper use of their early experience. Conscious of his acquire 
ments, with the certainty of faithful perseverance, and dis 
trusting the teachers of the day, my father undertook to 
instruct his own children, allowing them to take particular 
lesson from particular masters only so far as seemed absolutely 
necessary. A pedagogical dilettantism was already beginning 
to show itself everywhere. The pedantry and heaviness of 
the masters appointed in the public schools had probably 
given rise to this evil. Something better was sought for, but 
it was forgotten how defective all instruction must be, which 
is not given by persons who are teachers by profession. 

My father had prospered in his own career tolerably ac 
cording to his wishes : I was to follow the same course, only 
more easily, and much farther. He prized my natural endow 
ments the more, because he was himself wanting in them ; 
for he had acquired everything only by means of unspeakable 
diligence, pertinacity, and repetition. He often assured me, 
early and late, both in jest and earnest, that with my talents 
he would have deported himself very differently, and would 
not have turned them to such small account. 

By means of a ready apprehension, practice, and a good 
memory, I very soon outgrew the instructions which my 
father and the other teachers were able to give, without being 
thoroughly grounded in anything. Grammar displeased me, 
because I regarded it as a mere arbitrary law; the rules 
seemed ridiculous, inasmuch as they were invalidated by so 
many exceptions, which had all to be learned by themselves. 
And if the first Latin work had not been in rhyme, I should 
have got on but badly in that ; but as it was, I hummed and 



JUVENILE STUDIES. 21 

sang it to myself readily enough. In the same way we had a 
Geography in memory- verses, in which the most w r retched 
doggerel best served to fix the recollection of that which was 
to be retained : e. g. : 

Upper- Yssel has many a fen, 
Which makes it hateful to all men. 

The forms and inflections of language I caught with ease ; 
and I also quickly unravelled what lay in the conception of a 
thing. In rhetoric, composition, and such matters, no one 
excelled me, although I was often put back for faults of gram 
mar. Yet these were the attempts that gave my father 
particular pleasure, and for which he rewarded me with many 
presents of money, considerable for such a lad. 

My father taught my sister Italian in the same room in 
which I had to commit Cellarius to memory. As I was soon 
ready with my task, and was yet obliged to sit quiet, I listened 
with my book before me, and very readily caught the Italian, 
which struck me as an agreeable softening of Latin. 

Other precocities, with respect to memory and the power 
to combine, I possessed in common with those children who 
thus acquire an early reputation. For that reason my father 
could scarcely wait for me to go to college. He very soon 
declared, that I must study jurisprudence in Leipzig, for 
which he retained a strong predilection, and I w r as afterwards 
to visit some other university and take my degree. As for 
this second one he was indifferent which I might choose, 
except that he had for some reason or other a disinclination 
to Gottingen, to my disappointment, since it was precisely 
there that I had placed such confidence and high hopes. 

He told me further, that I was to go to Wetzlar and Ratis- 
bon as well as to Vienna, and thence towards Italy, although 
he repeatedly mentioned that Paris should first be seen, be 
cause after coming out of Italy nothing else could be pleasing. 

These tales of my future youthful travels, often as they 
were repeated, I listened to eagerly, the more since they 
always led to accounts of Italy, and at last to a description of 
Naples. His otherwise serious and dry manner seemed on 
these occasions to relax and quicken, and thus a passionate 
wish awoke in us children to participate in the paradise he 
described. 



22 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

Private lessons, which now gradually multiplied, were 
shared with the children of the neighbours. This learning 
in common did not advance me ; the teachers followed their 
routine ; and the rudeness, sometimes the ill-nature, of my 
companions, interrupted the brief hours of stud# with tumult, 
vexation, and disturbance. Chrestomathies, by which learn 
ing is made pleasant and varied, had not yet reached us. 
Cornelius Nepos, so dry to young people, the New Testament, 
which was much too easy, and which by preaching and reli 
gious instructions had been rendered even common-place, 
Cellarius and Pasor could impart no kind of interest ; on the 
other hand, a certain rage for rhyme and versification, a 
consequence of reading the prevalent German poets, took 
complete possession of us. Me it had seized much earlier, as 
I had found it agreeable to pass from the rhetorical to the 
poetical treatment of subjects. 

We boys held a Sunday assembly where each of us was to 
produce original verses. And here I was struck by something 
strange, which long caused me uneasiness. My poems, what 
ever they might be, always seemed to me the best. But I 
soon remarked, that my competitors who brought forth very 
lame affairs, were in the same condition, and thought no less 
of themselves. Nay, what appeared yet more suspicious, a 
good lad (though in such matters altogether unskilful), whom 
I liked in other respects, but who had his rhymes made by 
his tutor, not only regarded these as the best, but was 
thoroughly persuaded they were his own, as he always main 
tained in our confidential intercourse. Now, as this illusion 
and error was obvious to me, the question one day forced itself 
upon me, whether I myself might not be in the same state, 
whether those poems were not really better than mine, and 
whether I might not justly appear to those boys as mad as 
they to me ? This disturbed me much and long ; for it was 
altogether impossible for me to find any external criterion of 
the truth ; I even ceased from producing, until at length I was 
quieted by my own light temperament, and the feeling of my 
own powers, and lastly by a trial of skill started on the spur 
of the moment by our teachers and parents, who had noted 
our sport in which I came off well and won general praise. 

No libraries for children had at that time been established. 
The old had themselves still childish notions, and found it 



POPULAR WORKS. 23 

convenient to impart tlieir own education to their successors. 
Except the Orbis Pictus of Amos Comeiiius, no book of the 
sort fell into our hands ; but the large folio Bible, with copper 
plates by Merian, was diligently gone over leaf by leaf : Gott 
fried s Chronicles, with plates by the same master, taught us 
the most notable events of Universal History; the Acerra 
Philologica added thereto all sorts of fables, mythologies and 
wonders ; and, as I soon became familiar with Ovid s Meta 
morphoses, the first books of which in particular I studied 
carefully, my young brain was rapidly furnished with a mass 
of images and events, of significant and wonderful shapes and 
occurrences, and I never felt time hang upon my hands, as I 
always occupied myself in working over, repeating, and re 
producing these acquisitions. 

A more salutary moral effect than that of these rude and 
hazardous antiquities, was produced by Fenelon s Telemachus, 
with which I first became acquainted in Neukirch s transla 
tion, and which, imperfectly as it was executed, had a sweet 
and beneficent influence on my mind. That Robinson Crusoe 
was added in due time, follows in the nature of things ; and 
it may be imagined that the Island of Falsenberg was not 
wanting. Lord Anson s Voyage round the Globe combined 
the dignity of truth with the rich fancies of fable, and while 
our thoughts accompanied this excellent seaman, we were con 
ducted over all the world, and endeavoured to follow him with 
our fingers on the globe. But a still richer harvest was to 
spring up before me, when I lighted on a mass of writings, 
which, in their present state, it is true, cannot be called excel 
lent, but the contents of which, in a harmless way, bring near 
to us many a meritorious action of former times. 

The publication, or rather the manufacture, of those books 
which have at a later day become so well known and cele 
brated under the name Volkschriften, Volksbucher (popular 
works or books), was carried on in Frankfort. The enor 
mous sales they met with, led to their being almost illegibly 
printed from stereotypes on horrible blotting-paper. We 
children were so fortunate as to find these precious remains of 
the Middle Ages every day on a little table at the door of a 
dealer in cheap books, and to obtain them at the cost of a 
couple of hreutzer. The Eulenspiegel, the Four Sons of Hai- 
mon, the Emperor Octavian, the Fair Melusina, the Beautiful 



24 TRUTH AND POETRY ; PROM MY OWN" LIFE. 

Magrelone, Fortunatus, with the whole race clown to the Wan- 

o 

dering Jew, were all at our service, as often as we preferred 
the relish of these works to the taste of sweet things. The 
greatest benefit of this was, that when we had read through 
or damaged such a sheet, it could soon be reprocured and 
swallowed a second time. 

As a family pic-nic in summer is vexatiously disturbed by 
a sudden storm, which transforms a pleasant state of things 
into the very reverse, so the diseases of childhood fall unex 
pectedly on the most beautiful season of early life. And thus 
it happened with me. I had just purchased Fortunatus with 
his Purse and Wishing-hat, when I was attacked by a restless 
ness and fever which announced the small-pox. Inoculation 
was still with us considered very problematical, and although 
it had already been intelligibly and urgently recommended by 
popular writers, the German physicians hesitated to perform 
an operation that seemed to forestall Nature. Speculative 
Englishmen, therefore, had come to the Continent and inocu 
lated, for a considerable fee, the children of such persons as 
were opulent and free from prejudices. Still the majority 
were exposed to the old disease ; the infection raged through 
families, killed and disfigured many children ; and few parents 
dared to avail themselves of a method, the probable efficacy of 
which had been abundantly confirmed by the result. The 
evil now invaded our house and attacked me with unusual 
severity. My whole body was sown over with spots, and my 
face covered, and for several days I lay blind and in great 
pain. They tried the only possible alleviation, and promised 
me heaps of gold if I would keep quiet and not increase the 
mischief by rubbing and scratching. I controlled myself, 
while, according to the prevailing prejudice, they kept me as 
warm as possible, and thus only rendered my suffering more 
acute. At last, after a woful time, there fell as it were a mask 
from my face. The blotches had left no visible mark upon 
the skin, but the features were plainly altered. I myself was 
satisfied merely with seeing the light of day again, and 
gradually putting off my spotted skin ; but others were piti 
less enough to remind me often of my previous condition ; 
especially a very lively aunt, who had formerly regarded me 
with idolatry, but in after years could seldom look at me 
without exclaiming " The deuce, cousin ! what a fright he s 



DISEASES OF CHILDHOOD. 25 

grown !" Then she would tell me circumstantially how I had 
once been her delight, and what attention she had excited 
when she carried me about ; and thus I early learned that 
people very often subject us to a severe atonement for the 
pleasure wiiicjji we have afforded them. 

I neither escaped measles, nor chicken-pox, nor any other 
of the tormenting demons of childhood ; and I was assured 
each time that it was a great piece of good luck that this 
malady was now past for ever. But, alas ! another again 
threatened in the back-ground, and advanced. All these 
things increased my propensity to reflection; and as I had 
already practised myself in fortitude, in order to remove the 
torture of impatience, the virtues which I had heard praised 
in the Stoics appeared to me highly worthy of imitation, and 
the more so, as something similar was commended by the 
Christian doctrine of patience. 

While on the subject of these family diseases, I will men 
tion a brother about three years younger than myself, who 
was likewise attacked by that infection, and suifered not a 
little from it. He was of a tender nature, quiet and capri 
cious, and we were never on the most friendly terms. Besides, 
he scarcely survived the years of childhood. Among several 
other children born afterwards, who like him did not live long, 
I only remember a very pretty and agreeable girl, who also 
soon passed away ; so that, after the lapse of some years, my 
sister and I remained alone, and were therefore the more 
deeply and affectionately attached to each other. 

These maladies and other unpleasant interruptions were in 
their consequences doubly grievous ; for my father, who seemed 
to have laid down for himself a certain calendar of education 
and instruction, was resolved immediately to repair every 
delay, and imposed double lessons upon the young convales 
cent. These were not hard for me to accomplish, but were 
so far troublesome, that they hindered, and to a certain extent 
repressed, my inward development, which had taken a decided 
direction. 

From these didactic and pedagogic oppressions, we com 
monly fled to my grandfather and grandmother. Their house 
stood in the Friedberg -street, and appeared to have been for 
merly a fortress ; for, on approaching it, nothing was seen but a 
large gate with battlements, which were joined on either side 



26 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

to the two neighbouring houses. On entering through a nar 
row passage, we reached at last a tolerably broad court, 
surrounded by irregular buildings, which were now all united 
into one dwelling. We usually hastened at once into the 
garden, which extended to a considerable length and breadth 
behind the buildings, and was very well kept. The walks 
were mostly skirted by vine trellises ; one part of the space 
was used for vegetables, and another devoted to flowers, which 
from spring till autumn adorned in rich succession the borders 
as well as the beds. The long wall erected towards the south 
was used for some well-trained espalier peach-trees, the for 
bidden fruit of which ripened temptingly before us through the 
summer. Yet we rather avoided this side, because we here 
could not satisfy our dainty appetites ; and we turned to the 
side opposite, where an interminable row of currant and goose 
berry bushes furnished our voracity with a succession of har 
vests till autumn. Not less important to us was an old, high, 
wide-spreading mulberry-tree, both on account of its fruits, 
and because we were told that the silk- worms fed upon its 
leaves. In this peaceful region my grandfather w r as found 
every evening, tending with genial care and with his own 
hand the finer growths of fruits and flowers ; while a gardener 
managed the drudgery. He was never vexed by the various 
toils which were necessary to preserve and increase a fine 
show of pinks. The branches of the peach-trees were care 
fully tied to the espaliers with his own hands, in a fan-shape, 
in order to bring about a full and easy growth of the fruit. 
The sorting of the bulbs of tulips, hyacinths, and plants of a 
similar nature, as well as the care of their preservation, he 
entrusted to none ; and I still with pleasure recall to my mind 
how diligently he occupied himself in inoculating the different 
varieties of roses. That he might protect himself from the 
thorns, he put on a pair of those ancient leather gloves, of 
which three pair were given him annually at the Piper s Court, 
so that there was no dearth of the article. He wore also a 
loose dressing-gown, and a folded black velvet cap upon his 
head, so that he might have passed for an intermediate person 
between Alcinous and Laertes. 

All this work in the garden he pursued as regularly and 
with as much precision as his official business ; for, before he 
came down, he always arranged the list of causes for the next 



GOTHE S MATEKNAL GBANDFATHER. 27 

day, and read the legal papers. In the morning he proceeded 
to * the Council House, dined after his return, then nodded 
in his easy chair, and so went through the same routine every 
clay. He conversed little, never exhibited any vehemence, 
and I do not remember ever to have seen him angry. All that 
surrounded him was in the fashion of the olden time. I never 
perceived any alteration in his wainscotted room. His library 
contained, besides law works, only the earliest books of travels, 
sea voyages, and discoveries of countries. Altogether I can 
call to mind no situation more adapted than his to awaken 
the feeling of uninterrupted peace and eternal duration. 

But the reverence which we entertained for this venerable 
old man was raised to the highest degree by a conviction that 
he possessed the gift of prophecy, especially in matters that 
pertained to himself and his destiny. It is true he revealed 
himself to no one, distinctly and minutely, except to my 
grandmother; yet we were all aware that he was informed 
of what was going to happen, by significant dreams. He 
assured his wife, for instance, at a time when he was still a 
junior Councillor, that on the first vacancy he would obtain 
the place left open on the bench of the Schoffen ; and soon 
afterwards when one of those officers actually died of apoplexy, 
my grandfather gave orders that his house should be quietly 
got ready prepared on the day of electing and balloting, to 
receive his guests and congratulators. Sure enough, the deci 
sive gold ball was drawn in his favour. The simple dream 
by which he had learned this, he confided to his wife as fol 
lows : He had seen himself in the ordinary full assembly of 
Councilmen, where all went on just as usual. Suddenly, the 
late Schoff rose from his seat, descended the steps, pressed 
him in the most complimentary manner to take the vacant 
place, and then departed by the door. 

Something like this occurred on the death of the Schul- 
tJieiss. They make no delay in supplying this place, as they 
always have to fear that the Emperor will at some time 
resume his ancient right of nominating the officer. On this 
occasion, the messenger of the Court came at midnight to 
summon an extraordinary session for the next morning ; and 
as the light in his lantern was about to expire, he asked for a 
candle s end to help him on his way. " Give him a whole 
one," said my grandfather to the ladies, " he takes the trouble 



28 TRUTH A]S T D POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

all on my account." This expression anticipated the result- 
he was made Schultheiss ; and what rendered the circum 
stance particularly remarkable was, that although his repre 
sentative was the third and last to draw at the ballot, the 
two silver balls first came out, leaving the golden ball at the 
bottom of the bag for him. 

Perfectly prosaic, simple, and without a trace of the fan 
tastic or miraculous, were the other dreams, of which we 
were informed. Moreover, I remember that once, as a boy, I 
was turning over his books and memoranda, and found among 
some other remarks which related to gardening, such sen 
tences as these : " To-night N. N. came to me and said " 

the name and revelation being written in cipher ; or " This 

night I saw " all the rest being again in cipher, except 

the conjunctions and similar words, from which nothing could 
be learned. 

It is worthy of note also, that persons who showed no signs 
of prophetic insight at other times, acquired, for the moment, 
while in his presence, and that by means of some sensible 
evidence, presentiments of diseases or deaths which were then 
occurring in distant places. But no such gift has been trans 
mitted to any of his children or grandchildren, who for the 
most part have been hearty people, enjoying life, and never 
going beyond the Actual. 

While on this subject, I remember with gratitude many 
kindnesses I received from them in my youth. Thus, for 
example, we were employed and entertained in many ways 
when we visited the second daughter, married to the druggist 
Melbert, whose house and shop stood near the market, in the 
midst of the liveliest and most crowded part of the town. 
There we could look down from the windows pleasantly 
enough upon the hurly-burly in which we feared to lose our 
selves ; and though, at first, of all the goods in the shop, 
nothing had much interest for us but the liquorice, and the 
little brown stamped cakes made from it, we became in time 
better acquainted with the multitude of articles bought and 
sold in that business. This aunt was the most vivacious of 
all the family. When my mother, in her early years, took 
pleasure in being neatly dressed, working at some domestic 
occupation, or reading a book, the other, on the contrary, ran 
about the neighbourhood to pick up neglected children, take 



RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. 29 

care of them, comb them, and carry them round, as indeed 
she did me for a good while. At a time of public festivities, 
such as coronations, it was impossible to keep her at home. 
When a little child, she had already scrambled for the money 
scattered on such occasions ; and it was related of her, that 
once when she had got a good many together, and was 
looking at them with great delight in the palm of her hand, 
it was struck by somebody, and all her well-earned booty 
vanished at a blow. There was another incident of which 
she was very proud. Once, while standing on a post as the 
Emperor Charles VII. was passing, at a moment when all the 
people were silent, she shouted a vigorous " Vivat!" into the 
coach, wiiich made him take off his hat to her, and thank 
her quite graciously for her bold salutation. 

Everything in her house was stirring, lively, and cheerful, 
and we children owed her many a gay hour. 

In a quieter situation, which was however suited to her 
character, was a second aunt, married to the Pastor Stark, 
incumbent of St. Catharine s Church. He lived much alone, 
in accordance with his temperament and vocation, and pos 
sessed a fine library. Here I first became acquainted with 
Homer, in a prose translation, which may be found in the 
seventh part of Herr Von Loen s new collection of the most 
remarkable travels, under the title, Homers Description of 
the Conquest of the Kingdom of Troy, ornamented with copper 
plates, in the theatrical French taste. These pictures per 
verted my imagination to such a degree, that for a long time 
I could conceive the Homeric heroes only under such forms. 

V 

The incidents themselves gave me unspeakable delight ; though 
I found great fault with the work for affording us 110 account 
of the capture of Troy, and breaking off so abruptly with the 
death of Hector. My uncle, to whom I mentioned this 
defect, referred me to Virgil, who perfectly satisfied my 
demands. 

It will be taken for granted, that we children had among 
our other lessons, a continued and progressive instruction in 
religion. But the Church-Protestantism imparted to us was, 
properly speaking, nothing but a kind of dry morality: 
ingenious exposition was not thought of; and the doctrine 
appealed neither to the understanding nor to the heart. For 
that reason, there \vere various secessions from the Esta- 



30 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

blished Church. Separatists, Pietists, Herrnhuter (Moravians), 
Quiet-in-the-Lands, and others differently named and charac 
terized sprang up, all of whom were animated by the same 
purpose of approaching the Deity, especially through Christ, 
more closely than seemed to them possible under the forms 
of the established religion. 

The Boy heard these opinions and sentiments constantly 
spoken of; for the clergy as well as the laity divided them 
selves into pro and con. The minority were composed of 
those who dissented more or less broadly, but their modes 
of thinking attracted by originality, heartiness, perseverance, 
and independence. All sorts of stories were told of their 
virtues and of the way in which they were manifested. The 
reply of a certain pious tinman was especially noted, who, 
when one of his craft attempted to shame him by asking 
"who is really your confessor?" answered with great cheer 
fulness and confidence in the goodness of his cause, " I have 
a famous one no less than the confessor of King David." 

Things of this sort naturally made an impression on the 
Boy, and led him into similar states of mind. In fact, he 
came to the thought that he might immediately approach the 
great God of Nature, the Creator and Preserver of Heaven 
and Earth, whose earlier manifestations of wrath had been 
long forgotten in the beauty of the world, and the manifold 
blessings in which we participate while upon it. The way he 
took to accomplish this was very curious. 

The Boy had chiefly kept to the first article of Belief. The 
God who stands in immediate connexion with nature, and 
owns and loves it as his work, seemed to him the proper God, 
who might be brought into closer relationship with man, as 
with everything else, and who would take care of him, as of 
the motion of the stars, the days and seasons, the animals 
and plants. There were texts of the Gospels which explicitly 
stated this. The Boy could ascribe no form to this Being ; 
he therefore sought Him in His works, and would, in the good 
Old Testament fashion, build Him an altar. Natural produc 
tions were set forth as images of the world, over which a 
flame was to burn, signifying the aspirations of man s heart 
towards his Maker. He brought out of the collection of 
natural objects which he possessed, and which had been in 
creased as chance directed, the best ores and other specimens. 



THE BOY-PKIEST. 3t 

But the next difficulty was, as to how they should be arranged 
and raised into a pile. His father possessed a beautiful red- 
lackered music-stand, ornamented with gilt flowers, in the 
form of a four- sided pyramid, with different elevations, which 
had been found convenient for quartets, but lately was not 
much in use. The Boy laid hands on this, and built up his 
representatives of Nature one above the other in steps, so that 
it all looked quite pretty and at the same time sufficiently sig 
nificant. On an early sunrise his first worship of God was 
to be celebrated, but the young priest had not yet settled 
how to produce a flame which should at the same time emit 
an agreeable odour. At last it occurred to him to combine 
the two, as he possessed a few fumigating pastils, which diffused 
a pleasant fragrance with a glimmer, if not with a flame. 
Nay, this soft burning and exhalation seemed a better repre 
sentation of what passes in the heart, than an open flame. 
The sun had already risen for a long time, but the neigbour- 
ing houses concealed the East. At last it glittered above the 
roofs, a burning-glass was at once taken up and applied to the 
pastils, which were fixed on the summit in a fine porcelain 
saucer. Everything succeeded according to the wish, and 
the devotion was perfect. The altar remained as a peculiar 
ornament of the room, which had been assigned him in the new 
house. Every one regarded it only as a well-arranged collec 
tion of natural curiosities. The Boy knew better, but con 
cealed his knowledge. He longed for a repetition of the 
solemnity. But unfortunately, just as the most opportune sun 
arose, the porcelain cup was not at hand ; he placed the pastils 
immediately on the upper surface of the stand; they were 
kindled, and so great was the devotion of the priest, that he 
did not observe, until it was too late, the mischief his sacrifice 
was doing. The pastils had burned mercilessly into the red 
lacker and beautiful gold flowers, and as if some evil spirit had 
disappeared, had left their black, ineffaceable footprints. By 
this the young priest was thrown into the most extreme per 
plexity. The mischief could be covered up, it was true, with 
the larger pieces of his show-materials, but the spirit for new 
offerings was gone, and the accident might almost be con 
sidered a hint and warning of the danger there always is in 
wishing to approach the Deity in. such a way. 



SECOND BOOK. 



ALL that has been hitherto recorded indicates that happy 
and easy condition in which nations exist during a long peace. 
But nowhere probably is such a beautiful time enjoyed in 
greater comfort than in cities living under their own laws, 
and large enough to include a considerable number of citizens, 
and so situated as to enrich them by trade and commerce. 
Strangers find it to their advantage to come and go, and are 
under a necessity of bringing profit in order to acquire profit. 
Even if such cities rule but a small territory, they are the 
better qualified to advance their internal prosperity, as their 
external relations expose them to no costly undertakings or 
alliances. 

Thus, the Frankforters passed a series of prosperous years 
during my childhood ; but scarcely, on the 28th of August, 
1756, had I completed my seventh year, than that world- 
renowned war broke out, which was also to exert great 
influence upon the next seven years of my life. Frederick 
the Second, King of Prussia, had fallen upon Saxony, with 
sixty thousand men ; and instead of announcing his invasion 
by a declaration of war, he followed it up with a manifesto, 
composed by himself, as it was said, w r hich explained the 
causes that had moved and justified him in so monstrous a 
step. The world, which saw itself appealed to not merely as 
spectator but as judge, immediately split into two parties, and 
our family was an image of the great whole. 

My grandfather, who, as Schoff of Frankfort, had carried 
the coronation canopy over Francis the First, and had received 
from the Empress a heavy gold chain with her likeness, took 
the Austrian side along with some of his sons-in-law and 
daughters. My father having been nominated to the imperial 
council by Charles the Seventh, and sympathising sincerely 
in the fate of that unhappy monarch, leaned towards Prussia, 
with the other and smaller half of the family. Our meetings, 
which had been held on Sundays for many years uninter- 



FAMILY DISPUTES. 33 

ruptedly, were very soon disturbed. The misunderstandings 
so common among relatives by marriage, now first found a 
form in which they could be expressed. Contention, discord, 
silence, and separation ensued. My grandfather, otherwise 
a serene, quiet, and easy man, became impatient. The 
women vainly endeavoured to smother the flames ; and after 
some unpleasant scenes, my father was the first to quit the 
society. At home now we rejoiced undisturbed in the Prus 
sian victories, which were commonly announced with great 
glee by our vivacious aunt. Every other interest was forced 
to give way to this, and we passed the rest of the year in 
perpetual agitation. The occupation of Dresden, the modera 
tion of the king at the outset, his slow but secure advances, 
the victory at Lowositz, the capture of the Saxons, were so 
many triumphs for our party. Everything that could be 
alleged for the advantage of our opponents was denied or 
depreciated ; and as the members of the family on the other 
side did the same, they could not meet in the streets without 
disputes arising, as in Romeo and Juliet. 

Thus I also was then a Prussian in my views, or, to speak 
more correctly, a Fritzian ; since what cared we for Prussia ? 
It was the personal character of the great king that worked 
upon all hearts. I rejoiced with my father in our conquests, 
readily copied the songs of triumph, and almost more willingly 
the lampoons directed against the other party, poor as the 
rhymes might be. 

As the eldest grandson and godchild, I had dined every 
.Sunday since my infancy with my grandfather and grand 
mother, and the hours so spent had been the most delightful 
of the whole week. But now I relished no morsel that I 
tasted, because I was compelled to hear the most horrible 
slanders of mv hero. Here blew another wind, here sounded 

u 

another tone than at home. My liking and even my respect 
for my grandfather and grandmother fell off. I could mention 
nothing of this to my parents, but avoided the matter, both on 
account of my own feelings, and because I had been warned 
by my mother. In this way I was thrown back upon myself; 
and as in my sixth year, after the earthquake at Lisbon, the 
goodness of God had become to me in some measure suspicious, 
so I began now, on account of Frederick the Second, to doubt 
the justice of the public. My heart was naturally inclined to 

D 



34 TRUTH AND POETRY; PROM MY OWN LIFE. 

reverence, and it required a great shock to stagger my faith in 
anything that was venerable. But alas! they had commended 
good manners and a becoming deportment to us, not for their 
own sake, but for the sake of the people. What will people 
say ? was always the cry, and I thought that the people must 
be right good people, and would know how to judge of anything 
and eveiything. But my experience went just to the contrary. 
The greatest and most signal services were defamed and 
attacked ; the noblest deeds, if not denied, were at least mis- 
represented and diminished ; and this base injustice was done 
to the only man who was manifestly elevated above all his con 
temporaries, arid who daily proved what he was able to do, 
and that, not by the populace, but by distinguished men, as I 
took my grandfather and uncles to be. That parties existed, 
and that he himself belonged to a party, had never entered 
into the conceptions of the Boy. He, therefore, believed him- 
self all the more right, and dared hold his own opinion for the 
better one, since he and those of like mind appreciated the 
beauty and other good qualities of Maria Theresa, and even 
did not grudge the Emperor Francis his love of jewelry and 
money. That Count Daun was often called an old dozer, they 
thought justifiable. 

But now I consider the matter more closely, I trace here 
the germ of that disregard and even disdain of the public, 
which clung to me for a whole period of my life, and only in 
later days was brought within bounds by insight and cultiva 
tion. Suffice it to say, that the perception of the injustice 
of parties had even then a very unpleasant, nay, an injurious 
effect upon the Boy, as it accustomed him to separate himself 
from beloved and highly-valued persons. The quick suc 
cession of battles and events left the parties neither quiet nor 
rest. We ever found a malicious delight in reviving and 
re-sharpening those imaginary evils and capricious disputes ; 
and thus we continued to tease each other, until the occupa 
tion of Frankfort by the French some years afterwards, 
brought real inconvenience into our homes. 

Although to most of us the important events occurring 
in distant parts served only for topics of ardent controversy, 
there were others who perceived the seriousness of the times, 
and feared that the sympathy of France might open a scene 
of war in our own vicinity. They kept us children at home 



IK-DOOR AMUSEMENTS. 35 

more than before, and strove in many ways to occupy and 
amuse us. With this view, the puppet-show bequeathed by 
our grandmother was again brought forth, and arranged in 
such a way that the spectators sat in my gable room, while 
the persons managing and performing, as well as the theatre 
itself as far as the proscenium, found a place in the room 
adjoining. We were allowed, as a special favour, to invite 
first one and then another of the neighbours children as 
spectators, and thus at the outset I gained many friends; 
but the restlessness inherent in children, did not suffer them 
to remain long a patient audience. They interrupted the 
play, and we were compelled to seek a younger public, which 
could at any rate be kept in order by the nurses and maids. 
The original drama to which the puppets had been specially 
adapted, we had learnt by heart, and in the beginning this was 
exclusively performed. Soon growing weary of it, however, 
we changed the dresses and decorations, and attempted various 
other pieces, w r hich were indeed on too grand a scale for so 
narrow a stage. Although this presumption spoiled and finally 
quite destroyed what we performed, such childish pleasures and 
employments nevertheless exercised and advanced in many 
ways my power of invention and representation, my fancy and 
a certain technical skill, to a degree which in any other way 
could not perhaps have been secured in so short a time, in 
so confined a space, and at so little expense. 

I had early learned to use compasses and ruler, because all 
the instructions they gave me in geometry were forthwith 
put into practice, and I occupied myself greatly with paste 
board-work. I did not stop at geometrical figures, little 
boxes, and such things, but invented pretty pleasure-houses 
adorned with pilasters, steps, and flat roofs. However, but 
little of this was completed. 

Far more persevering was I, on the other hand, in arranging, 
with the help of our domestic (a tailor by trade), an armoury 
for the service of our plays and tragedies, which we ourselves 
performed with delight when we had outgrown the puppets. 
My playfellows, too, prepared for themselves such armouries, 
which they regarded as quite as fine and good as mine ; but I 
had made provision not for the wants of one person only, and 
could furnish several of the little band with every requisite, 
and thus made myself more and more indispensable to our 



36 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

little circle. That such games tended to factions, quarrels, 
and blows, and commonly came to a sad end in tumult and 
vexation, may easily be supposed. In such cases certain of 
my companions generally took part with me, while others 
sided against me ; though many changes of party occurred. 
One single boy, whom I will call Pylades, urged by the others, 
once only left my party, but could scarcely for a moment 
maintain his hostile position. We were reconciled amid many 
tears, and for a long time afterwards kept faithfully together. 
To him, as well as other well-wishers, I could render myself 

t/ 

very agreeable by telling tales, which they most delighted to 
hear when I was the hero of my own story. It greatly re 
joiced them to know that such wonderful things could befall 
one of their own playfellows ; nor was it any harm that they 
did not understand how I could find time and space for such 
adventures, as they must have been pretty well aware of all my 
comings and goings, and how I was occupied the entire day. 
Not the less necessary was it for me to select the localities 
of these occurrences, if not in another world, at least in another 
spot ; and yet all was told as having taken place only to-day 
or yesterday. They rather, therefore, deceived themselves^ 
than were imposed upon by me. If I had not gradually 
learned, in accordance w r ith the instincts of my nature, to 
work up these visions and conceits into artistic forms, such 
vain-glorious beginnings could not have gone on without 
producing evil consequences in the end. 

Considering this impulse more closely, we may see in it 
that presumption with which the poet authoritatively utters 
the greatest improbabilities, and requires every one to recog 
nise as real whatever may in any way seem to him, the 
inventor, as true. 

But what is here told only in general terms, and by way of 
reflection, will perhaps become more apparent and interesting 
by means of an example. I subjoin, therefore, one of these 
tales, which, as I often had to repeat it to my comrades, 
still hovers entire in my imagination and memory. 



37 



THE NEW PARIS, 

A BOY S LEGEND. 

ON the night before Whit Sunday, not long since, I dreamed 
that I stood before a mirror, engaged with the new summer 
clothes \vhich my dear parents had given me for the holiday. 
The dress consisted, as you know, of shoes of polished leather, 
with large silver buckles, fine cotton stockings, black nether 
garments of serge, and a coat of green baracan with gold 
buttons. The waistcoat of gold cloth was cut out of my 
father s bridal waistcoat. My hair had been frizzled and pow 
dered, and my curls stuck out from my head like little wings ; 
but I could not finish dressing myself, because I kept confusing 
the different articles, the first always falling off as soon as 1 
was about to put on the next. In this dilemma, a young and 
handsome man came to me, and greeted me in the friendliest 
manner. " O ! you are welcome!" said I, "I am very glad to 
see you here." "Do you know me, then ?" replied he, smiling. 
" Why not?" was my no less smiling answer ; " you are Mer 
cury I have often enough seen you represented in pictures." 
" I am, indeed," replied he ; "and am sent to you by the gods 
on an important errand. Do you see these three apples?" he 
stretched forth his hand, and showed me three apples, which 
it could hardly hold, and which were as wonderfully beautiful 
as they were large, the one of a red, the other of a yellow, 
the third of a green colour. One could not help thinking 
they were precious stones made into the form of fruit. I 
would have snatched them, but he drew back, and said, " You 
must know, in the first place, that they are not for you. You 
must give them to the three handsomest youths of the city, who 
then, each according to his lot, will find wives to the utmost 
of their wishes. Take them, and success to you!" said he, as 
he departed, leaving the apples in my open hands. They 
appeared to me to have become still larger. I held them up 
at once against the light and found them quite transparent ; 
but soon they expanded upwards, and became three beautiful 
little ladies, about as large as middle-sized dolls, wiiose clothes 
were of the colours of the apples. They glided gently up my 
fingers, and when I was about to catch at them, to make sure 
of one at least, they had already soared high and far, and I 



38 TRUTH AND POETRY; PROM MY OWN LIFE. 

had to put up with the disappointment. I stood there all 
amazed and petrified, holding up my hands and staring at my 
fingers, as if there were still something on them to see. Sud 
denly I beheld, upon the very tips, a most lovely girl dancing, 
smaller than those, but pretty and lively, and as she did not 
fly away like the others, but remained dancing, now on one 
finger-point now on another, I regarded her for a long while 
with admiration. And, as she pleased me so much, I thought 
in the end I could catch her, and made as I fancied a very 
adroit grasp. But at the moment I felt such a blow on my 
head, that I fell down stunned, and did not awake from my 
stupor till it was time to dress myself and go to church. 

During the service I often recalled those images to mind ; 
and also when I was eating dinner at my grand-father s 
table. In the afternoon, I wished to visit some friends, 
partly to show myself in my new dress, with my hat under 
my arm and my sword by my side, and partly to return, 
their visits. I found no one at home, and, as I heard that 
they were gone to the gardens, I resolved to follow them, and 
pass the evening pleasantly. My way led towards the en 
trenchments, and I came to the spot which is rightly called 
the Bad Wall ; for it is never quite safe from ghosts there. I 
walked slowly, and thought of my three goddesses, but espe 
cially of the little nymph ; and often held up my fingers, in 
hopes she might be kind enough to balance herself there 
again. With such thoughts I was proceeding, when I saw in 
the wall on my left hand a little gate, which I did not remem 
ber to have ever noticed before. It looked low, but its pointed 
arch would have allowed the tallest man to enter. Arch and 
wall were chiselled out in the handsomest way, both by mason 
and sculptor ; but it was the door itself which first properly 
attracted my attention. The old brown wood, though slightly 
ornamented, was crossed with broad bands of brass, wrought 
both in relief and intaglio. The foliage on these, with the 
most natural birds sitting in it, I could not sufficiently admire. 
But, what seemed most remarkable, no keyhole could be seen, 
no latch, no knocker ; and from this I conjectured that the 
door could be opened only from within. I was not in error ; 
for when I went nearer, in order to touch the ornaments, it 
opened inwards, and there appeared a man. whose dress was 
somewhat long, wide, and singular. A venerable beard enve- 



THE NEW PAEIS. 39 

loped his chin, so that I was inclined to think him a Jew. 
But he, as if he had divined my thoughts, made the sign of 
the Holy Cross, by which he gave me to understand that he 
was a good Catholic Christian. " Young gentleman, how 
came you here, and what are you doing?" he said to me, 
with a friendly voice and manner. " I am admiring," I re 
plied, " the workmanship of this door ; for I have never seen 
anything like it, except in some small pieces in the collections 
of amateurs." " I am glad," he answered, that you like 
such works. The door is much more beautiful inside. Come 
in, if you like." My heart, in some degree, failed me. The 
mysterious dress of the porter, the seclusion, and a something, 
I know not what, that seemed to be in the air, oppressed 
me. I paused, therefore, under the pretext of examining the 
outside still longer; and at the same time I cast stolen 
glances into the garden, for a garden it was which had opened 
before me. Just inside the door I saw a space. Old linden, 
trees, standing at regular distances from each other, entirely 
covered it with their thickly interwoven branches, so that the 
most numerous parties, during the hottest of the day, might 
have refreshed themselves in the shade. Already I had 
stepped upon the threshold, and the old man contrived gra 
dually to allure me on. Properly speaking, I did not resist ; 
for I had always heard that a prince or sultan in such a case 
must never ask whether there be danger at hand. I had my 
sword by my side, too ; and could I not soon have finished 
with the old man, in case of hostile demonstrations ? I there 
fore entered perfectly reassured ; the keeper closed the door, 
which bolted so softly that I scarcely heard it. He now 
showed me the workmanship on the inside, which in truth was 
still more artistic than the outside, explained it to me, and at 
the same time manifested particular good- will. Being thus 
entirely at my ease, I let myself be guided in the shaded 
space by the wall, that formed a circle, where I found much 
to admire. Niches tastefully adorned with shells, corals, and 
pieces of ore, poured a profusion of water from the mouths of 
Tritons into marble basins. Between them were aviaries and 
other lattice-work, in which squirrels frisked about, guinea- 
pigs ran hither and thither, with as many other pretty little 
creatures as one could wish to see. The birds called and sang 
to us as we advanced ; the starlings particularly chattered the 



40 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

silliest stuff. One always cried, Paris ! Paris ! and the other, 
Narcissus ! Narcissus ! as plainly as a schoolboy can say them. 
The old man seemed to continue looking at me earnestly while 
the birds called out thus, but I feigned not to notice it, and 
had in truth no time to attend to him ; for I could easily per- 
ceive that we went round and round, and that this shaded 
space was in fact a great circle, which inclosed another much 
more important. Indeed we had actually reached the small 
door again, and it seemed as though the old man would let me 
out. But my eyes remained directed towards a golden railing, 
which seemed to hedge round the middle of this wonderful 
garden, and which I had found means enough of observing in 
our walk, although the old man managed to keep me always 
close to the wall, and therefore pretty far from the centre. 
And now, just as he was going to the door, I said to him, with 
a bow, " You have been so extremely kind to me, that I would 
fain venture to make one more request before I part from you. 
Might I not look more closely at that golden railing, which 
appears to inclose in a very wide circle the interior of the 
garden ?" " Very willingly," replied he : " but in that case 
you must submit to some conditions." " In what do they 
consist?" I asked hastily. "You must leave here your hat 
and sword, and must not let go my hand while I accompany 
you." "Most willingly," I replied; and laid my hat and 
sword on the nearest stone bench. Immediately he grasped 
my left hand with his right, held it fast, and led me with 
some force straight forwards. When we reached the railing, 
my wonder changed into amazement. On a high socle of 
marble stood innumerable spears and partisans, ranged beneath 
each other, joined by their strangely ornamented points, and 
forming a complete circle. I looked through the intervals, 
and saw just behind a gently flowing piece of water, bounded 
on both sides by marble, and displaying in its clear depths a 
multitude of gold and silver fish, which moved about now 
slowly and now swiftly, now alone and now in shoals. I would 
also fain have looked beyond the canal, to see what there was 
in the heart of the garden. But I found, to my great sorrow, 
that the other side of the water was bordered by a similar 
railing, and with so much art, that to each interval on this 
side exactly fitted a spear or partisan on the other. These 
and the other ornaments rendered it impossible for one to see 



THE NEW PARIS. 41 

i 

through, stand as one would. Besides, the old man, who still 
held me fast, prevented me from moving freely. My curiosity, 
meanwhile, after all that I had seen, increased more and more ; 
and I took heart to ask the old man whether one could not 
pass over. " Why not? returned he, " but on new condi 
tions." When I asked him what these were, he gave me to 
understand that I must put on other clothes. I was satisfied 
to do so ; he led me back towards the wall, into a small neat 
room, on the sides of which hung many kinds of garments, all 
of which seemed to approach the oriental costume. I soon 
changed my dress. He confined my powdered hair under a 
many coloured net, after having to my horror violently dusted 
it out. Now standing before a great mirror, I found myself 
quite handsome in my disguise, and pleased myself better 
than in my formal Sunday clothes. I made gestures and 
leaped as I had seen the dancers do at the Fair-theatre. In 
the midst of this I looked in the glass, and saw by chance the 
image of a niche which was behind me. On its white ground 
hung three green cords, each of them twisted up in a way 
which from the distance I could not clearly discern. I there 
fore turned round rather hastily, and asked the old man about 
the niche as well as the cords. He very courteously took a 
cord down, and showed it to me. It was a band of green silk 
of moderate thickness; the ends of which joined by green 
leather with two holes in it, gave it the appearance of an in 
strument for no very desirable purpose. The thing struck me 
as suspicious, and I asked the old man the meaning. He 
answered me very quietly and kindly, " This is for those who 
abuse the confidence which is here readily shown them." He 
hung the cord again in its place, and immediately desired me 
to follow him ; for this time he did not hold me, and so I 
walked freely beside him. 

My chief curiosity now was to discover where the gate and 
bridge, for passing through the railing and over the canal, 
might be ; since as yet I had not been able to find anything of 
the kind. I therefore watched the golden fence very narrowly 
as we hastened towards it. But in a moment my sight failed ; 
lances, spears, halberds, and partisans, began unexpectedly to 
rattle and quiver, and this strange movement ended in all the 
points sinking towards each other, just as if two ancient hosts, 
armed with pikes, were about to charge. The confusion ta 



42 TRUTH AND POETEY ; FEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

the eyes, the clatter to the ears, was hardly to be borne ; but 
infinitely surprising was the sight when falling perfectly level, 
they covered the circle of the canal, and formed the most 
glorious bridge that one can imagine. For now a most varie 
gated garden parterre met my sight. It was laid out in cur 
vilinear beds, which, looked at together, formed a labyrinth of 
ornaments; all with green borders of a low woolly plant, 
which I had never seen before ; all with flowers, each division 
of different colours, which being likewise low and close to the 
ground, allowed the plan to be easily traced. This delicious 
sight, which I enjoyed in the full sunshine, quite rivetted my 
eyes. But I hardly knew where I was to set my foot ; for the 
serpentine paths were most delicately laid with blue sand, which 
seemed to form upon the earth a darker sky, or a sky seen in 
the water : and so I walked for a while beside my conductor, 
with my eyes fixed upon the ground, until at last I perceived 
that, in the middle of this round of beds and flowers, there 
was a great circle of cypresses or poplar-like trees, through 
which one could not see, because the lowest branches seemed 
to spring out of the ground. My guide, without taking me 
directly the shortest way, led me nevertheless immediately 
towards that centre : and how was I astonished, when on 
entering the circle of high trees, I saw before me the peristyle 
of a magnificent garden-house, which seemed to have similar 
prospects and entrances on the other sides ! The heavenly 
music which streamed from the building, transported me 
still more than this model of architecture. I fancied that I 
heard now a lute, now a harp, now a guitar, and now some 
thing jingling, w^hich did not belong to any of these instru 
ments. The door which we approached opened soon after 
a light touch by the old man. But how was I amazed, when 
the porter ess, who came out, perfectly resembled the delicate 
girl who had danced upon my fingers in the dream ! She 
greeted me as if we were already acquainted, and invited me 
to walk in. The old man remained behind, and I went with 
her through a short passage, arched and finely ornamented, to 
the middle hall, the splendid dome-like ceiling of which 
attracted my gaze on my entrance, and filled me with asto 
nishment. Yet my eye could not linger long on this, being 
allured down by a more charming spectacle. On a carpet, 
directly under the middle of the cupola, sat three women, in 



THE NEW PARIS. 43 

a triangle, clad in three different colours ; one red, the other 
yellow, the third green. The seats were gilt, and the carpet 
was a perfect flower-bed. In their arms lay the three instru 
ments which I had been able to distinguish from the outside ; 
for being disturbed by my arrival, they had stopped their play 
ing. " Welcome !" said the middle one, who sat with her face 
to the door, in a red dress, and with the harp. " Sit down 
by Alert, and listen, if you are a lover of music." 

Now first I remarked that there was a rather long bench 
placed obliquely before them, on which lay a mandoline. The 
pretty girl took it up, sat down, and drew me to her side. 
Now also I looked at the second lady on my right. She wore 
the yellow dress, and had the guitar in her hand ; and if the 
harp-player was dignified in form, grand in features, and 
majestic in her deportment, one might remark in the guitar- 
player an easy grace and cheerfulness. She was a slender 
blonde while the other was adorned by dark browTi hair. 
The variety and accordance of their music could not prevent 
me from remarking the third beauty, in the green dress, whose 
lute-playing was for me at once touching and striking. She 
was the one who seemed to notice me the most, and to direct 
her music to me ; only I could not make up my mind about 
her ; for she appeared to me now tender, now whimsical, now 
frank, now self-willed, according as she changed her mien and 
mode of playing. Sometimes she seemed to wish to move me, 
sometimes to teaze me ; but do what she would, she got little 
out of me ; for my little neighbour, by whom I sat elbow to 
elbow, had gained me entirely to herself; and while I clearly 
saw in those three ladies the Sylphides of my dream, and re 
cognised the colours of the apples, I conceived that I had no 
cause to detain them. The pretty little maiden I would 
rather have captured, if I had not but too feelingly remem 
bered the blow which she had given me in my dream. 
Hitherto she had remained quite quiet with her mandoline ; 
but when her mistresses had ceased, they commanded her to 
perform some pleasant little piece. Scarcely had she jingled 
off some dancing tune, in a most exciting manner, than she 
sprang up ; I did the same. She played and danced ; I was 
hurried on to accompany her steps, and w^e executed a kind of 
little ballet, with which the ladies seemed satisfied ; for as 
soon as we had done, they commanded the little girl to refresh 



44 TKUTH AND POETEY ; FKOM MY OWN LIFE. 

me with, something nice till supper should come in. I had 
indeed forgotten that there was anything in the world beyond 
this paradise. Alert led me back immediately into the passage 
by which I had entered. On one side of it she had two well- 
arranged rooms. In that in which she lived, she set before me 
oranges, figs, peaches, and grapes ; and I enjoyed with great 
gusto both the fruits of foreign lands and those of our own 
not yet in season. Confectionary there was in profusion ; 
she filled, too, a goblet of polished crystal with foaming wine ; 
but I had no need to drink, as I had refreshed myself with 
the fruits. " Now we will play," said she, and led me into 
the other room. Here all looked like a Christmas fair ; but 
such costly and exquisite things were never seen in a Christ 
mas booth. There were all kinds of dolls, dolls clothes, and 
dolls furniture ; kitchens, parlours, and shops, and single toys 
innumerable. She led me round to all the glass cases, in 
which these ingenious works were preserved. But she soon 
closed again the first cases, and said " That is nothing 
for you, I know well enough. Here," she said, " we could 
find building materials, walls and towers, houses, palaces, 
churches, to put together a great city. But this does not 
entertain me. We will take something else, which will be 
pleasant alike to both of us." Then she brought out some 
boxes, in which I saw an army of little soldiers piled one upon 
the other, of which I must needs confess that I had never seen 
anything so beautiful. She did not leave me time to examine 
them closely in detail, but took one box under her arm, while I 
seized the other. "We will go," she said, "upon the golden 
bridge. There one plays best with soldiers ; the lances give 
at once the direction in which the armies are to be opposed to 
each other." We had now reached the golden trembling 
floor ; and below me I could hear the waters gurgle, and the 
fishes splash, while I knelt down to range my columns. All, 
as I now saw, were cavalry. She boasted {hat she had the 
Queen of the Amazons as leader of her female host. I, on 
the contrary, found Achilles and a very stately Grecian 
cavalry. The armies stood facing each other, and nothing 
could have been seen more beautiful. They were not flat 
leaden horsemen like ours, but man and horse were round and 
solid, and most finely wrought ; nor could one conceive how 
they kept their balance, for they stood of themselves, without 
a support for their feet. 



THE NEW PAftlS. 45 

Both of us had inspected our hosts with much self-compla 
cency, when she announced the onset. "We had found ordnance 
in our chests, viz., little boxes full of well-polished agate balls. 
With these we were to fight against each other from a certain 
distance, while, however, it was an express condition that we 
should not throw with more force than was necessary to upset 
the figures, as none of them were to be injured. Now the 
cannonade began on both sides, and at first it succeeded to the 
satisfaction of us both. But when my adversary observed 
that I aimed better than she, and might in the end win the 
victory, which depended on the majority of pieces remaining 
upright, she came nearer, and her girlish way of throwing 
had then the desired result. She prostrated a multitude of 
my best troops, and the more I protested the more eagerly 
did she throw. This at last vexed me, and I declared that I 
would do the same. In fact, I not only went nearer, but in 
my rage threw with much more violence, so that it was not 
long before a pair of her little centauresses flew in pieces. In 
her eagerness she did not instantly notice it, but I stood 
petrified when the broken figures joined together again of 
themselves ; Amazon and horse became again one whole, and 
also perfectly close, set up a gallop from the golden bridge 
under the lime-trees, and running swiftly backwards and for 
wards, were lost in their career, I know not how, in the 
direction of the wall. My fair opponent had hardly perceived 
this, when she broke out into loud weeping and lamentation, 
and exclaimed that I had caused her an irreparable loss, which 
was far greater than could be expressed. But I, by this time 
provoked, was glad to annoy her, and blindly flung a couple 
of the remaining agate balls with force into the midst of her 
nrmy. Unhappily I hit the queen, who had hitherto, during 
our regular game, been excepted. She flew in pieces, and 
her nearest officers were also shivered. But they swiftly set 
themselves up again, and started off like the others, galloping 
very merrily about under the lime-trees, and disappearing 
against the wall. My opponent scolded and abused me ; but 
being now in full play, I stooped to pick up some agate balls 
which rolled about upon the golden lances. It was my fierce 
desire to destroy her whole army. She, on the other hand, 
not idle, sprang at me, and gave me a box on the ear which 
made my head ring again. Having always heard that a 



46 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

hearty kiss was the proper response to a girl ,s box of the ear, 
I took her by the ears, and kissed her repeatedly. But she 
gave such a piercing cry as frightened even me ; I let her go, 
and it was fortunate that I did so ; for in a moment I knew 
not what was happening to me. The ground beneath me 
began to quake and rattle ; I soon remarked that the railings 
again set themselves in motion; but I had no time to con 
sider, nor could I get a footing so as to fly. I feared every 
instant to be pierced, for the partisans and lances, which had 
lifted themselves up, were already slitting my clothes. It is 
sufficient to say that, I know not how it was, hearing and sight 
failed me, and I recovered from my swoon and terror at the 
foot of a lime-tree, against which the pikes in springing up 
had thrown me. As I awoke, my anger awakened also, and 
violently increased when I heard from the other side the gibes 
and laughter of my opponent, who had probably reached the 
earth somewhat more softly than I. Thereupon I sprang up, 
and as I saw the little host, with its leader Achilles, scattered 
around me, having been driven over with me by the rising of 
the rails, I seized the hero first and threw him against a tree. 
His resuscitation and flight now pleased me doubly, a malicious 
pleasure combining with the prettiest sight in the world ; and 
I was on the point of sending all the other Greeks after him, 
when suddenly hissing waters spurted at me on all sides, from 
stones and walls, from ground and branches ; and wherever I 
turned dashed against me cross ways. 

My light garment was in a short time wet through ; it was 
already rent, and I did not hesitate to tear it entirely off my 
body. I cast away my slippers, and one covering after 
another. Nay, at last I found it very agreeable to let such a 
shower-bath play over me in the warm day. Now, being 
quite naked, I walked gravely along between these welcome 
waters, where I thought to enjoy myself for some time. My 
anger cooled, and I wished for nothing more than a reconcilia 
tion with my little adversary. But, in a twinkling the water 
stopped, and I stood drenched upon the saturated ground. 
The presence of the old man, who appeared before me unex 
pectedly, was by no means welcome ; I could have wished, if 
not to hide, at least to clothe myself. The shame, the shiver 
ing, the effort to cover myself in some degree, made me cut a 
most piteous figure. The old man employed the moment in 



THE NEW PAEIS. 47 

venting the severest reproaches against me. " What hinders 
me," he exclaimed, "from taking one of the green cords, and 
fitting it, if not to your neck, to your back?" This threat I 
took in very ill part. " Refrain," I cried, " from such w T ords, 
even from such thoughts, for otherwise you and your mis 
tresses will be lost." " Who then are you," he asked in 
defiance, "who dare speak thus?" "A favourite of the 
gods," I said, " on whom it depends whether those ladies shall 
find worthy husbands and pass a happy life, or be left to pine 
and wither in their magic cell." The old man stepped some 
paces back. " Who has revealed that to you?" he inquired, 
with astonishment and concern. " Three apples," I said 
three jewels." "And what reward do you require?" he 
exclaimed. " Before all things, the little creature," I replied, 
" who has brought me into this accursed state." The old man 
cast himself down before me, without shrinking from the wet 
and miry soil ; then he arose without being wetted, took me 
kindly by the hand, led me into the hall, clad me again 
quickly, and I was soon once more decked out and frizzled in 
my Sunday fashion as before. The porter did not speak 
another word ; but before he let me pass the entrance, he 
stopped me, and showed me some objects on the wall over the 
way, while, at the same time, he pointed backwards to the 
door. I understood him ; he wished to imprint the objects on 
my mind, that I might the more certainly find the door, which 
had unexpectedly closed behind me. I now took good notice 
of what was opposite to me. Above a high wall rose the 
boughs of extremely old nut-trees, and partly covered the 
cornice at the top. The branches reached down to a stone 
tablet, the ornamented border of which I could perfectly 
recognise, though I could not read the inscription. It rested 
on the corbel of a niche, in which a finely-wrought fountain 
poured water from cup to cup into a great basin, that formed, 
as it were, a little pond, and disappeared in the earth. Foun 
tain, inscription, nut-trees, all stood directly one above 
another ; I would paint it as I saw it. 

Now, it may well be conceived how I passed this evening* 
and many following days, and how often I repeated to myself 
this story, which even I could hardly believe. As soon as it 
was in any degree possible, I went again to the Bad Wall, at 
least to refresh my remembrance of these signs, and to look at 



48 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWK LIFE. 

the precious door. But, to my great amazement, I found all 
changed. Nut-trees, indeed, overtopped the wall, but they 
did not stand immediately in contact. A tablet also was in 
serted in the wall, but far to the right of the trees, without 
ornament, and with a legible inscription. A niche with a 
fountain was found far to the left, but with no resemblance 
whatever to that which I had seen ; so that I almost believed 
that the second adventure was, like the first, a dream ; for of 
the door there is not the slightest trace. The only thing that 
consoles me is the observation, that these three objects seem 
always to change their places. For in repeated visits to the 
spot, I think I have noticed that the nut-trees have moved 
somewhat nearer together, and that the tablet and the fountain 
seem likewise to approach each other. Probably, when all is 
brought together again, the door, too, will once more be visible ; 
and I will do my best to take up the thread of the adventure. 
Whether I shall be able to tell you what further happens, or 
whether it will be expressly forbidden me, I cannot say. 

This tale, of the truth of which my playfellows vehemently 
strove to convince themselves, received great applause. Each 
of them visited alone the place described, without confiding it 
to me or the others, and discovered the nut-trees, the tablet, 
and the spring, though always at a distance from each other ; 
as they at last confessed to me afterwards, because it is not 
easy to conceal a secret at that early age. But here the con 
test first arose. One asserted that the objects did not stir 
from the spot and always maintained the same distance : a 
second averred that they did move, and that too away from 
each other : a third agreed with the latter as to the first point 
of their moving, though it seemed to him that the nut-tree, 
tablet, and fountain rather drew near together : while a fourth 
had something still more wonderful to announce, which was, 
that the nut-trees were in the middle, but that the tablet and 
the fountain were on sides opposite to those which I had 
stated. With respect to the traces of the little door they also 
varied. And thus they furnished me an early instance of the 
contradictory views men can hold and maintain in regard to 
matters quite simple and easily cleared up. As I obstinately 
refused the continuation of my tale, a repetition of the first 
part was often desired. I was on my guard, however, not to 



JUVENILE STOICISM. 49 

change the circumstances much, and by the uniformity of the 
narrative I converted the fable into truth in the minds of my 
hearers. 

Yet I was averse to falsehood and dissimulation, and alto 
gether by no means frivolous. Rather, on the contrary, the 
inward earnestness with which I had early begun to consider 
myself and the world, was seen even in my exterior, and I 
w^as frequently called to account, often in a friendly way, 
and often in raillery, for a certain dignity which I had 
assumed. For, although good and chosen friends were cer 
tainly not wanting to me, we were always a minority against 
those who found pleasure in assailing us with wanton rude 
ness, and who indeed often awoke us in no gentle fashion from, 
that legendary and self-complacent dreaming in which we I 
by inventing, and my companions by sympathising were too 
readily absorbed. Thus we learned once more, that instead 
of sinking into effeminacy and fantastic delights, there was 
reason rather for hardening ourselves, in order either to bear 
or to counteract inevitable evils. 

Among the stoical exercises which I cultivated, as earnestly 
as it was possible for a lad, was even the endurance of bodily 
pain. Our teachers often treated us very unkindly and unskil 
fully, with blows and cuffs, against which we hardened our 
selves all the more as refractoriness was forbidden under the 
severest penalties. A great many of the sports of youth, 
moreover, depend on a rivalry in such endurances ; as, for 
instance, when they strike each other alternately, with two 
fingers or the whole fist, till the limbs are numbed, or 
when they bear the penalty of blows, incurred in certain 
games, with more or less firmness; when in wrestling or 
scuffling they do not let themselves be perplexed by the pinches 
of a half-conquered opponent ; or finally, when they suppress 
the pain inflicted, for the sake of teasing, and even treat with 
indifference the nips and ticklings with which young persons 
are so active towards each other. Thus we gain a great 
advantage, of which others cannot speedily deprive us. 

But as I made a sort of boast of this impassiveness, the im 
portunity of the others was increased ; and, since rude bar 
barity knows no limits, it managed to force me beyond my 
bounds. Let one case suffice for several, It happened once 
that the teacher did not come at the usual hour for instruction. 

E 



50 TRUTH A!*D POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

As long as we children were all together, we entertained 
ourselves quite agreeably; but when my adherents, after wait 
ing long enough, went away, and I remained alone with three 
of my enemies, these took it into their heads to torment me, 
to shame me, and to drive me away. Having left me an 
instant in the room, they came back with switches, which they 
had made by quickly cutting up a broom. I noted their 
design, and as I supposed the end of the hour near, I at once 
resolved not to resist them till the clock struck. They began, 
therefore, without remorse, to lash my legs and calves in the 
cruellest fashion. I did not stir, but soon felt that I had mis 
calculated, and that such pain greatly lengthened the minutes. 
My wrath grew with my endurance, and at the first stroke of 
the hour, I grasped the one who least expected it by the hair 
behind, hurled him to the earth in an instant, pressing my 
knee upon his back ; the second, a younger and weaker one, 
who attacked me from behind, I drew by the head under my 
arm, and almost throttled him with the pressure. The last, 
and not the weakest, still remained ; and my left hand only 
was left for my defence. But I seized him by the clothes, and 
with a dexterous twist on my part, and an over precipitate 
one on his, I brought him down and struck his face on the 
ground. They were not wanting in bites, pinches, and kicks, 
but I had nothing but revenge in my limbs as well as in my 
heart. With the advantage which I had acquired, I repeatedly 
knocked their heads together. At last they raised a dreadful 
shout of murder, and we were soon surrounded by all the 
inmates of the house. The switches scattered around, and 
my legs, which I had bared of the stockings, soon bore witness 
for me. They put off the punishment, and let me leave the 
house ; but I declared that in future, on the slightest offence, 
I would scratch out the eyes, tear off the ears, of any one of 
them, if not throttle him. 

This event, though, as usually happens in childish affairs, 
it was soon forgotten, and even laughed over, was yet the 
cause that these instructions in common became fewer, and at 
last entirely ceased. I was thus again, as formerly, kept 
more at home, where I found my sister Cornelia, who was only 
one year younger than myself, a companion always growing 
more agreeable. 

Still, I will not leave this topic without narrating some more 



RUDENESS OF JUVENILE COMPANIONS G 51 

stories of the many vexations caused me by my playfellows ; 
for this is the instructive part of such moral communications, 
that a man may learn how it has gone with others, and what 
he also has to expect from life ; and that whatever comes to 
pass, he may consider that it happens to him as a man, and 
not as one specially fortunate or unfortunate. If such know 
ledge is of little use for avoiding evils, it is very serviceable 
so far as it qualifies us to understand our condition, and bear 
or even to overcome it. 

Another general remark will not be out of place here, which 
is, that as the children of the cultivated classes grow up, a 
great contradiction appears. I refer to the fact, that they are 
urged and trained, by parents and teachers, to deport them 
selves moderately, intelligently, and even wisely ; to give pain 
to no one from petulance or arrogance, and to suppress all the 
evil impulses which may be developed in them ; but yet, on 
the other hand, while the young creatures are engaged in this 
discipline, they have to suffer from others that which in them 
is reprimanded and punished. In this way, the poor things 
are brought into a sad strait between the natural and civilised 
states, and after restraining themselves for a while, break out 
according to their characters into cunning or violence. 

Force is rather to be put down by force ; but a well-disposed 
child, inclined to love and sympathy, has little to oppose to 
scorn and ill-will. Though I managed pretty well to keep off 
the active assaults of my companions, I was by no means 
equal to them in sarcasm and abuse ; because he who merely 
defends himself in such cases, is always a loser. Attacks of 
this sort, consequently, when they went so far as to excite 
anger, were repelled with physical force, or at least excited 
strange reflections in me, which could not be without results. 
Among other advantages which my ill-wishers grudged me, 
was the pleasure I took in the relations that accrued to the 
family from my grandfather s position of Schultheiss, since, as 
he w T as the first of his class, this had no small effect on those 
belonging to him. Once, when after the holding of the Piper s- 
court, I appeared to pride myself on having seen my grand 
father in the midst of the council, one step higher than the 
rest, enthroned, as it were, under the portrait of the Emperor, 
one of the boys said to me in derision, that like the peacock 
contemplating his feet, I should cast niy eyes back to my 

E 2 



52 TRUTH AT*D POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

paternal grandfather, who had been keeper of the Willow-inn, 
and would never have aspired to thrones and coronets. I 
replied that I was in no wise ashamed of that, as it was the 
glory and honour of our native city that all its citizens might 
consider each other equal, and every one derive profit and 
honour from his exertions in his own way. I was sorry only 
that the good man had been so long dead ; for I had often 
yearned to know him in person, had many times gazed upon 
his likeness, nay, had visited his tomb, and had at least 
derived pleasure from the inscription on the simple monu 
ment of that past existence to which I was indebted for my 
own. Another ill-wisher, who was the most malicious of all, 
took the first aside, and whispered something in his ear, while 
they still looked at me scornfully. My gall already began 
to rise, and I challenged them to speak out. " What is more, 
then, if you will have it," continued the first, " this one thinks 
you might go looking about a long time before you could find 
your grandfather !" I now threatened them more vehemently 
if they did not more clearly explain themselves. Thereupon 
they brought forward an old story, which they pretended to 
have overheard from their parents, that my father was the son 
of some eminent man, while that good citizen had shown him 
self willing to take outwardly the paternal office. They had 
the impudence to produce all sorts of arguments; as, for 
example, that our property came exclusively from our grand 
mother, that the other collateral relations, who lived in Fried- 
burg and other places, were all alike destitute of property, 
and other reasons of the sort, which could merely derive their 
weight from malice. I listened to them more composedly than 
they expected, for they stood ready to fly the very moment 
that I should make a gesture as if I would seize their hair. 
But I replied quite calmly, and in substance, " that even this 
was no great injury to me. Life was such a boon, that one 
might be quite indifferent as to whom one had to thank for 
it, since at least it must be derived from God, before whom 
we all were equals." As they could make nothing of it, they 
let the matter drop for this time ; we went on playing together 
as before, which among children is an approved mode of 
reconciliation. 

Still these spiteful words inoculated me with a sort of moral 
disease, which grept on in secret. It would not have dis- 



GOETHE S REPUTED GRANDFATHER. 53 

.pleased me at all to have been the grandson of any person of 
consideration, even if it had not been in the most lawful way. 
My acuteness followed up the scent my imagination was 
excited, and my sagacity put in requisition. I began to inves 
tigate the allegation, and invented or found for it new grounds 
of probability. I had heard little said of my grandfather, 
except that his likeness, together with my grandmother s, had 
hung in a parlour of the old house ; both of which, after the 
building of the new one, had been kept in an upper chamber. 
My grandmother must have been a very handsome woman, and 
of the same age as her husband. I remembered, also, to have 
seen in her room the miniature of a handsome gentleman in 
uniform, with star and order, which, after her death, and 
during the confusion of house-building, had disappeared with 
many other small pieces of furniture. These, and many other 
things, I put together in my childish head, and exercised that 
modern poetical talent which contrives to obtain the sympa 
thies of the whole cultivated world by a marvellous combina 
tion of the important events of human life. 

But as I did not venture to trust such an affair to any one, 
or even to ask the most remote questions concerning it, I was 
not wanting in a secret diligence, in order to get, if possible, 
somewhat nearer to the matter. I had heard it explicitly 
maintained, that sons often bore a decided resemblance to 
their fathers or grandfathers. Many of our friends, especially 
Councillor Schneider, a friend of the family, were connected 
by business with all the princes and noblemen of the neigh 
bourhood, of whom, including both the ruling and the younger 
branches, not a few had estates on the Rhine and Maine, and 
in the intermediate country, and who at times honoured their 
faithful agents with their portraits. These, which I had often 
seen on the walls from my infancy, I now regarded with re 
doubled attention, seeking wiiether I could not detect some 
resemblance to my father or even to myself, which too often 
happened to lead me to any degree of certainty. For now 
it was the eyes of this, now the nose of that, which seemed 
to indicate some relationship. Thus these marks led me 
delusively backwards and forwards ; and though in the end I 
was compelled to regard the reproach as a completely empty 
tale, the impression remained, and I could not from time to 
time refrain from privately calling up and testing all the noble- 



54 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

men whose images had remained very clear in my fancy. So 
true is it that whatever inwardly confirms man in his self- 
conceit, or natters his secret vanity, is so highly desirable to 
him, that he does not ask further, whether in other respects it 
may turn to his honour or his disgrace. 

But instead of mingling here serious and even reproachful 
reflections, I rather turn my look away from those beautiful 
times ; for who is able to speak worthily of the fulness of 
childhood ? We cannot behold the little creatures which flit 
about before us otherwise than with delight, nay, with admira 
tion ; for they generally promise more than they perform, and it 
seems that nature, among the other roguish tricks that she 
plays us, here also especially designs to make sport of us. 
The first organs she bestows upon children coming into the 
world, are adapted to the nearest immediate condition of the 
creature, which, unassuming and artless, makes use of them 
in the readiest way for its present purposes. The child, con 
sidered in and for itself, with its equals, and in relations suited 
to its powers, seems so intelligent and rational, and at the same 
time so easy, cheerful, and clever, that one can hardly wish it 
further cultivation. If children grew up according to early 
Indications, we should have nothing but geniuses ; but growth 
Is not merely development ; the various organic systems which 
constitute one man. spring one from another, follow each 
other, change into each other, supplant each other, and even 
consume each other ; so that after a time scarcely a trace is to 
be found of many aptitudes and manifestations of ability. 
Even when the talents of the man have on the whole a decided 
direction, it will be hard for the greatest and most experienced 
connoisseur to declare them beforehand with confidence, 
although afterwards it is easy to remark what has pointed to 
a future. 

By no means, therefore, is it my design wholly to comprise 
the stories of my childhood in these first books ; but I will 
rather afterwards resume and continue many a thread which 
ran through the early years unnoticed. Here, however, I 
must remark what an increasing influence the incidents of the 
war gradually exercised upon our sentiments and mode of life. 

The peaceful citizen stands in a wonderful relation to the 
great events of the world. They already excite and disquiet him 
from a distance, and even if they do not touch him, he can 



FEELINGS OF THE FKANKFORTEHS IN 1757. 55 

scarcely refrain from an opinion and a sympathy. Soon he 
takes a side, as his character or external circumstances may 
determine. But when such grand fatalities, such important 
changes, draw nearer to him, then with many outward incon 
veniences remains that inward discomfort, which doubles and 
sharpens the evil and destroys the good which is still possible. 
Then he has really to suffer from friends and foes, often more 
from those than from these, and he knows not how to secure 
and preserve either his interests or his inclinations. 

The year 1757, which still passed in perfectly civic tranquil 
lity, kept us, nevertheless, in great uneasiness of mind. Per 
haps no other was more fruitful of events than this. Conquests, 
achievements, misfortunes, restorations, followed one upon 
another, swallowed up and seemed to destroy each other ; yet 
the image of Frederick, his name and glory, soon hovered 
again above all. The enthusiasm of his worshippers grew 
always stronger and more animated, the hatred of his enemies 
more bitter, and the diversity of opinion, which separated even 
families, contributed not a little to isolate citizens, already 
sundered in many ways and on other grounds. For in a city 
like Frankfort, where three religions divide the inhabitants 
into three unequal masses, where only a few men, even of the 
ruling faith, can attain to political power, there must be many 
wealthy and educated persons who are thrown back upon 
themselves, and, by means of studies and tastes, form for 
themselves an individual and secluded existence. It will be 
necessary for us to speak of such men, now and hereafter, if 
We are to bring before us the peculiarities of a Frankfort 
citizen of that time. 

My father, immediately after his return from his travels, had 
in his own way formed the design, that to prepare himself for 
the service of the city, he would undertake one of the subor 
dinate offices, and discharge its duties without emolument^ if 
it were conferred upon, him without balloting. In the con 
sciousness of his good intentions, and according to his way of 
thinking and the conception which he had of himself, he 
believed that he deserved such a distinction, which indeed was 
not conformable to law or precedent. Consequently, when his 
suit was rejected, he fell into ill-humour and disgust, vowed 
that he would never accept of any place, and in order to 
render it impossible, procured the title of Imperial Councillor, 



56 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

which the Schultheiss and elder Schbffen bear as a special 
honour. He had thus made himself an equal of the highest, 
and could not begin again at the bottom. The same impulse 
induced him also to woo the eldest daughter of the Schultheiss, 
so that he was excluded from the council on this side also. 
He was now of that number of recluses who never form them 
selves into a society. They are as much isolated in respect to 
each other as they are in regard to the whole, and the more 
so as in this seclusion the character becomes more and more 
uncouth. My father, in his travels and in the world which he 
had seen, might have formed some conception of a more 
elegant and liberal mode of life than was, perhaps, common 
among his fellow- citizens. In this respect, however, he was 
not entirely without predecessors and associates. 

The name of UFFENBACH is well known. At that time 
there was a Schoff von Uffenbach, who was generally respected. 
He had been in Italy, had applied himself particularly to 
music, sang an agreeable tenor, and having brought home a 
fine collection of pieces, concerts and oratorios were performed 
at his house. Now, as he sang in these himself, and held 
musicians in great favour, it was not thought altogether suit 
able to his dignity, and his invited guests, as well as the 
other people of the country, allowed themselves many a jocose 
remark on the matter. 

I remember, too, a BARON YON HAKEL, a rich nobleman, 
who being married, but childless, occupied a charming house 
in the Antonius-street, fitted up with all the appurtenances 
of a dignified position in life. He also possessed good 
pictures, engravings, antiques, and much else which generally 
accumulates with collectors and lovers of art. From time 
to time he asked the more noted personages to dinner, and was 
beneficent in a careful way of his own, since he clothed the 
poor in his own house, but kept back their old rags, and gave 
them a weekly charity, on condition that they should present 
themselves every time clean and neat in the clothes bestowed 
on them. I can recall him but indistinctly, as a genial, well- 
made man ; but more clearly his auction, which I attended 
from beginning to end, and, partly by command of my father, 
partly from my own impulse, purchased many things that are 
still to be found in my collections. 

At an earlier date than this so early that I scarcely set 



DR. ORTH. 57 

eyes upon him JOHN MICHAEL YON LOEN gained consider 
able repute in the literary world, as well as at Frankfort. 
Not a native of Frankfort, he settled there, and married a 
sister of my grandmother Textor, whose maiden-name was 
Lindheim. Familiar with the court and political world, and 
rejoicing in a renewed title of nobility, he had acquired repu 
tation by daring to take part in the various excitements which 
arose in Church and State. He wrote the Count of Rivera, 
a didactic romance, the subject of which is made apparent by 
the second title, " or, the Honest Man at Court." This work 
was well received, because it insisted on morality even in 
courts, where prudence only is generally at home ; and thus 
his labour brought him applause and respect. A second work, 
for that very reason, would be accompanied by more danger. 
He wrote The Only True Religion, a book designed to ad 
vance tolerance, especially between Lutherans and Calvinists. 
But here he got in a controversy with the theologians : one 
Dr. Benner, of Giessen, in particular, wrote against him. 
Von Loen rejoined ; the contest grew violent and personal, 
and the unpleasantness which arose from it caused him to 
accept the office of President at Lingen, which Frederick II. 
offered him, supposing that he was an enlightened, unpreju 
diced man, and not averse to the new views that more exten 
sively obtained in France. His former countrymen, whom he 
left in some displeasure, averred that he was not contented 
there, nay, could not be so, as a place like Lingen was not to 
be compared with Frankfort. My father also doubted whether 
the President would be happy, and asserted that the good uncle 
would have done better not to connect himself with the king, 
as it was generally hazardous to get too near him, extraordinary 
sovereign as he undoubtedly was ; for it had been seen how 
disgracefully the famous Voltaire had been arrested in Frank 
fort, at the requisition of the Prussian Resident Freitag, 
though he had formerly stood so high in favour, and had been 
regarded as the king s teacher in French poetry. There was 
no want, on such occasions, of reflections and examples, to 
warn one against courts and princes service, of which a native 
Frankforter could scarcely form a conception. 

An excellent man, Dr. ORTH, I will only mention by name, 
because here I have not so much to erect a monument to 
the deserving citizens of Frankfort, but rather refer to them 



58 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

so far forth as their renown or personal character had some 
influence upon me in my earliest years. Dr. Orth was a 
wealthy man, and was also of that number who never took 
part in the government, although perfectly qualified to do so by 
his knowledge and penetration. The antiquities of Germany, 
and more especially of Frankfort, have been much indebted to 
him ; he published remarks on the so-called Reformation of 
Frankfort, a work in which the statutes of the state are col 
lected. The historical portions of this book I diligently read 
in my youth. 

YON OCHSENSTEIN, the eldest of the three brothers whom 
I have mentioned above as our neighbours, had not been 
remarkable during his lifetime, in consequence of his recluse 
habits, but became the more remarkable after his death, by 
leaving behind him a direction that common working-men 
should carry him to the grave, early in the morning, in perfect 
silence, and without an attendant or follower. This was done, 
and the affair excited great attention in the city, where they 
were accustomed to the most pompous funerals. All who 
discharged the customary offices on such occasions, rose against 
the innovation. But the stout patrician found imitators in all 
classes, and though such ceremonies were derisively called ox- 
burials,* they came into fashion, to the advantage of many of 
the more poorly-provided families, while funeral parades were 
less and less in vogue. I bring forward this circumstance, 
because it presents one of the earlier symptoms of that ten 
dency to humility and equality, which in the second half of 
the last century was manifested in so many ways, from above 
downwards, and broke out in such unlooked-for effects. 

Nor was there any lack of antiquarian amateurs. There 
were cabinets of pictures, collections of engravings, while the 
curiosities of our own country especially were zealously sought 
and hoarded. The older decrees and mandates of the imperial 
city, of which no collection had been prepared, were carefully 
searched for in print and manuscript, arranged in the order of 
time, and preserved with reverence, as a treasure of native 
laws and customs. The portraits of Frankforters, which 
existed in great number, were also brought together, and 
formed a special department of the cabinets. 

* A pun upon the name of Ochsenstein. Trans. 



THE SENKENBERGS. 59 

Such men my father appears generally to have taken as his 
models. He was wanting in none of the qualities that pertain 
to an upright and respectable citizen. Thus, after he had 
built his house, he put his property of every sort into order. 
An excellent collection of maps by Schenck and other 
geographers at that time eminent, the aforesaid decrees and 
mandates, the portraits, a chest of ancient weapons, a case of 
remarkable Venetian glasses, cups and goblets, natural curiosi 
ties, works in ivory, bronzes, and a hundred other things, were 
separated and displayed, and I did not fail, whenever an 
auction occurred, to get some commission for the increase of 
his possessions. 

I must still speak of one important family, of which I had 
heard strange things since my earliest years, and of some of 
whose members I myself lived to see a great deal that was 
wonderful I mean the SENKENBERGS. The father, of whom 
I have little to say, was an opulent man. He had three sons, 
who even in their youth uniformly distinguished themselves 
as oddities. Such things are not well received in a limited city, 
where no one is suffered to render himself conspicuous, either 
for good or evil. Nicknames and odd stories, long kept in 
memory, are generally the fruit of such singularity. The 
father lived at the corner of Hare -street (Hascngasse), which 
took its name from a sign on the house, that represented one 
hare at least, if not three hares. They consequently called 
these three brothers only the three Hares, which nick-name 
they could not shake off for a long while. But as great 
endowments often announce themselves in youth in the form 
of singularity and awkwardness, so was it also in this case. 
The eldest of the brothers was the Reichshofrath (Imperial 
Councillor) von Senkenberg afterwards so celebrated. The 
second w T as admitted into the magistracy, and displayed 
eminent abilities, which, however, he subsequently abused in 
a pettifogging and even infamous way, if not to the injury 
of his native city, certainly to that of his colleagues. The 
third brother, a physician and man of great integrity, but who 
practised little, and that only in high families, preserved even 
in his old age a somewhat whimsical exterior. He was 
always very neatly dressed, and was never seen in the street 
otherwise than in shoes and stockings, with a well-powdered 
curled wig, and his hat under his arm. He walked on 



60 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

rapidly, but with a singular sort of stagger, so that he was 
sometimes on one and sometimes 011 the other side of the 
way, and formed a complete zigzag as he went. The wags 
said that he made this irregular step to get out of the way 
of the departed souls, who might follow him in a straight 
line, and that he imitated those who are afraid of a cro 
codile. But all these jests and many merry sayings were 
transformed at last into respect for him, when he devoted his 
handsome dwelling-house in Eschenheimer- street, with court, 
garden, and all other appurtenances, to a medical establish 
ment, where, in addition to a hospital designed exclusively 
for the citizens of Frankfort, a botanic garden, an anatomical 
theatre, a chemical laboratory, a considerable library, and a 
house for the director, were instituted in a way of which no 
university need have been ashamed. 

Another eminent man, whose efficiency in the neighbour 
hood and whose writings, rather than his presence, had a 
very important influence upon me, was CHARLES FREDERICK 
VON MOSER, who was perpetually referred to in our district 
for his activity in business. He also had a character essen 
tially moral, which as the vices of human nature frequently 
gave him trouble, inclined him to the so-called pious. Thus, 
what Yon Loen had tried to do in respect to court life, he would 
have done for business-life, introducing into it a more con 
scientious mode of proceeding. The great number of small 
German courts gave rise to a multitude of princes and ser 
vants, the former of whom desired unconditional obedience, 
while the latter, for the most part, would work or serve only 
according to their own convictions. Thus arose an endless 
conflict, and rapid changes and explosions, because the effects 
of an unrestricted course of proceeding become much sooner 
noticeable and injurious on a small scale than on a large one. 
Many families were in debt, and Imperial Commissions of 
Debts were appointed: others found themselves sooner or 
later on the same road ; while the officers either reaped 
an unconscionable profit, or conscientiously made themselves 
disagreeable and odious. Moser wished to act as a statesman 
and man of business, and here his hereditary talent, cultivated 
to a profession, gave him a decided advantage ; but he at the 
same time wished to act as a man and a citizen, and surrender 
as little as possible of his moral dignity. His Prince and 



KLOPSTOCK S MESSIAH." 61 

Servant, his Daniel in the Lions Den, his Relics, paint 
throughout his own condition, in which he felt himself not 
indeed tortured, but always cramped. They all indicate im 
patience in a condition, to the bearings of which one cannot 
reconcile oneself, yet from which one cannot get free. With 
this mode of thinking and feeling, he was, indeed, often 
compelled to seek other employments, which, on account of his 
great cleverness, were never wanting. I remember him as a 
pleasing, active, and at the same time gentle man. 

The name of KLOPSTOCK had already produced a great effect 
upon us, even at a distance. In the outset, people wondered 
how so excellent a man could be so strangely named ; but 
they soon got accustomed to this, and thought no more of the 
meaning of the syllables. In my father s library I had hitherto 
found only the earlier poets, especially those who in his day had 
gradually appeared and acquired fame. All these had written 
in rhyme, and my father held rhyme as indispensable in poetical 
works. Canitz, Hagedorn, Drollinger, Gellert, Creuz, Haller, 
stood in a row, in handsome calf bindings, to these were added 
Neukirch s Telemachus, Koppen s Jerusalem Delivered, and 
other translations. I had from my childhood diligently read 
through the whole of these works, and committed portions to 
memory, whence I was often called upon to amuse the company. 
A vexatious era on the other hand opened upon my father, 
when through Klopstock s Messiah, verses, which seemed 
to him no verses, became an object of public admiration.* 
He had taken good care not to buy this book ; but the friend 
of the family, Councillor Schneider, smuggled it in, and 
slipped it into the hands of my mother and her children. 

On this man of business, who read but little, the Messiah, 
as soon as it appeared, made a powerful impression. Those 
pious feelings, so naturally expressed, and yet so beautifully 
elevated, that agreeable language, even if considered merely 
as harmonious prose, had so won the otherwise dry man of 
business, that he regarded the first ten cantos, of which alone 
we are properly speaking, as the finest Book of Devotion, and 
once every year in Passion week, when he managed to escape 
from business, read it quietly through by himself, and thus 
refreshed himself for the entire year. In the beginning he 

* Tlie Messiah is written in hexameter verse. T)*ans. 



62 TRUTH AND POETRY ; PROM MY OWN LIFE. 

thought to communicate his emotions to his old friend; but 
he was much shocked when forced to perceive an incurable 
dislike cherished against a book of such valuable substance, 
merely because of what appeared to him an indifferent ex 
ternal form. It may readily be supposed that their conver 
sation often reverted to this topic ; but both parties diverged 
more and more widely from each other, there were violent 
scenes, and the compliant man was at last pleased to be silent 
on his favourite work, that he might not lose, at the same 
time, a friend of his youth, and a good Sunday meal. 

It is the most natural wish of every man to make proselytes, 
and how much did our friend find himself rewarded in secret, 
when he discovered in the rest of the family hearts so openly 
disposed for his saint. The copy which he used only one week 
during the year, was devoted to us all the remaining time. 
My mother kept it secret, and we children took possession of 
it when we could, that in leisure hours, hidden in some nook, 
we might learn the most striking passages by heart, and par 
ticularly might impress the most tender as well as the most 
violent parts on our memory, as quickly as possible. 

Porcia s dream we recited in a sort of rivalry, and divided 
between us the wild dialogue of despair between Satan and 
Adramelech, who have been cast into the Red Sea. The first 
part, as the strongest, had been assigned to me, and the 
second, as a little more pathetic, was undertaken by my 
sister. The alternate and horrible but well-sounding curses 
flowed only thus from our mouths, and we seized every 
opportunity to accost each other with these infernal phrases. 

One Saturday evening, in winter my father always had 
himself shaved over night, that on Sunday morning he might 
dress himself for church at his ease we sat on a footstool 
behind the stove, and muttered our customary imprecations in 
a tolerably low voice, while the barber was putting on the 
lather. But now Adramelech had to lay his iron hands on 
Satan ; my sister seized me with violence, and recited, softly 
enough, but with increasing passion : 

11 Give me thine aid, I intreat thee, will worship thee, if thou requires t, 
Thee, thou monster abandoned, yes thee, of all criminals blackest ; 
Aid me, I suffer the tortures of death, which is vengeful, eternal, 
Once, in the times gone by, with a hot fierce hate I could hate thee, 
Now I can hate thee no more 1 E en this is the sharpest of tortures." 



KLOPSTOCK S "MESSIAH." 63 

Thus far all went on tolerably ; but loudly, with a dreadful 
voice, she cried the following words : 

" How am I crushed \ n 

The good surgeon was startled, and emptied the lather-basin 
into my father s bosom. There was a great uproar, and a 
severe investigation was held, especially with respect to the 
mischief which might have been done if the shaving had 
been actually going forward. In order to relieve ourselves 
of all suspicions of wantonness in the affair, we confessed our 
Satanic characters, and the misfortune occasioned by the 
hexameters was so apparent, that they were again condemned 
and banished. 

Thus children and common people are accustomed to trans 
form the great and sublime into a sport, and even a jest ; and 
how indeed could they otherwise abide and tolerate it ? 



THIRD BOOK. 



AT that time the general interchange of personal good wishes 
made the city very lively on New Year s day. Those who 
otherwise did not easily leave home, donned their best clothes, 
that for a moment they might be friendly and courteous to 
their friends and patrons. The festivities at my grandfather s 
house on this day were pleasures particularly desired by us 
children. At early dawn the grandchildren had already 
assembled there to hear the drums, oboes, clarionets, trumpets, 
and cornets played upon by the military, the city musicians, 
and whoever else might furnish his tones. The New Year s 
gifts, sealed and superscribed, were divided by us children 
among the humbler congratulators, and, as the day advanced, 
the number of those of higher rank increased. The relations 
and intimate friends appeared first, then the subordinate offi 
cials ; even the gentlemen of the council did not fail to pay 
their respects to the Schultheiss, and a select number were 
entertained in the evening in rooms which were else scarcely 
opened throughout the year. The tarts, biscuits, marchpane, 
and sweet wine had the greatest charm for the children, and, 
besides, the Schultheiss and the two Burgomasters annually 
received from some institutions some article of silver, which 
was then bestowed upon the grandchildren and godchildren in 
regular gradation. In fine, this small festival was not wanting 
in any of those things which usually glorify the greatest. 

The New Year s day of 1759 approached, as desirable and 
pleasant to us children as any preceding one, but full of im 
port and foreboding to older persons. To the passage of the 
French troops people certainly had become accustomed, and 
they happened often, but they had been most frequent in the 
last days of the past year. According to the old usage of an 
imperial town, the warder of the chief tower sounded his 
trumpet whenever troops approached, and on this New 
Year s day he would not leave off, which was a sign that 

/ <_/ 

large bodies were in motion on several sides. They actually 



OCCUPATION OE FRANKFORT BY THE FRENCH 65 

marched through the city in greater masses on this day, and the 
people ran to see them pass by. We had generally been used 
to see them go through in small parties, but these gradually 
swelled, and there was neither power nor inclination to stop 
them. In short, on the 2nd of January, after a column had 
come through Sachsenhausen over the bridge, through the 
Fahrgasse, as far as the Police Guard House it halted, over 
powered the small company which escorted it, took possession 
of the before-mentioned Guard House, marched down the 
Zeile, and after a slight resistance, the main guard were also 
obliged to yield. In a moment the peaceful streets were 
turned into a scene of war. The troops remained and 
bivouacked there until lodgings were provided for them by 
regular billetting. 

This unexpected, and, for many years, unheard-of burden 
weighed heavily upon the comfortable citizens, and to none 
could it be more cumbersome than to my father, who was 
obliged to take foreign military inhabitants into his scarcely 
finished house, to open for them his well-furnished reception 
rooms, which were generally closed, and to abandon to the 
caprices of strangers all that he had been used to arrange and 
keep so carefully. Siding as he did with the Prussians, he 
was now to find himself besieged in his own chambers by the 
.French ; it was, according to his way of thinking, the greatest 
misfortune that could happen to him. Had it, however, been 
possible for him to have taken the matter more easily, he 
might have saved himself and us many sad hours, since he spoke 
French well, and could deport himself with dignity and grace 
in the daily intercourse of life. For it was the King s Lieu 
tenant who was quartered on us, and he, although a military 
person, had only to settle civil occurrences, disputes between 
soldiers and citizens, and questions of debt and quarrels. 
This was the Count Thorane, a native of Grasse in Provence, 
not far from Antibes ; a tall, thin, stern figure, with a face 
much disfigured by the small pox, black fiery eyes, and a dig 
nified, reserved demeanour. His first entrance was at once 
favourable for the inmates of the house. They spoke of the 
different apartments, some of which were to be given up, and 
others retained by the family; and when the Count heard a 
picture-room mentioned, he immediately requested permission, 
although it was already night, at least to give a hasty look at 

3? 



66 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

the pictures by candlelight. He took extreme pleasure in 
these things, behaved in the most obliging manner to my father, 
who accompanied him, and when he heard that the greater 
part of the artists were still living, and resided in Frankfort 
and its neighbourhood, he assured us that he desired nothing 
more than to know them as soon as possible, and to employ 

them. 

But even this sympathy in respect to art could not change 
my father s feelings nor bend his character. He permitted 
what he could not prevent, but kept at a distance in inactivity, 
and the uncommon state of things around him was intolerable 
to him, even in the veriest trifle. 

Count Thorane behaved himself meanwhile in an exemplary 
manner. He would not even have his maps nailed on the 
walls, that he might not injure the new hangings. His people 
were skilful, quiet, and orderly ; but, in truth, as during the 
whole day and a part of the night there was no quiet with him, 
one complainant quickly following another, arrested persons 
being brought in and led out, and all officers and adjutants being 
admitted to his presence ; as, moreover, the Count kept an 
open table every day ; it made in the moderately-sized house, 
arranged only for a family, and with but one open staircase 
running front top to bottom, a movement and a buzzing like 
that in a beehive, although everything was managed with 
moderation, gravity, and severity. 

As mediator between the irritable master of the house, who 
became daily more of a hypochondriac self-tormentor, and his 
well-intentioned, but stern and precise military guest, there 
was a pleasant interpreter, a handsome, corpulent, lively man, 
who was a citizen of Frankfort, spoke French well, knew 
how to adapt himself to everything, and only made a jest of 
many little annoyances. Through him my mother had sent a 
representation to the Count of the situation in which she was 
placed, owing to her husband s state of mind. He had ex 
plained the matter so skilfully had laid before him the new 
and scarcely furnished house, the natural reserve of the owner, 
his occupation in the education of his family and all that 
could be said to the same effect, that the Count, who in his 
capacity took the greatest pride in the utmost justice, integrity, 
and honourable conduct, resolved here also to behave in an 
exemplary manner to those upon whom he was quartered, 



COUNT THOKANE. 67 

and, indeed, never swerved from this resolution under varying 
circumstances during the several years he stayed with us. 

My mother possessed some knowledge of Italian, a language 
not altogether unknown to any of the family; she therefore 
resolved to learn French immediately, for which purpose the 
interpreter, for whose child she had stood godmother during 
these stormy times, and who now therefore, as a gossip, * felt 
a redoubled interest in our house, devoted every spare moment 
to his child s godmother for he lived directly opposite and 
above all, he taught her those phrases which she would be 
obliged to use in her personal intercourse with the Count. 
This succeeded admirably. The Count was flattered by the 
pains taken by the mistress of the house at her years, and as 
he had a cheerful, witty vein in his character, and he liked to 
exhibit a certain dry gallantry, a most friendly relation arose 
between them, and the allied godmother and father could 
obtain whatever they wanted from him. 

As I said before, if it had been possible to cheer up my 
father, this altered state of things would have caused little 
inconvenience. The Count practised the severest disinterest 
edness ; he even declmed receiving gifts which pertained to his 
situation ; the most trifling thing which could have borne the 
appearance of bribery, he rejected angrily, and even punished. 
His people were most strictly forbidden to put the proprietor 
of the house to the least expense. We children, on the con 
trary, were bountifully supplied from the dessert. To give an 
idea of the simplicity of those times, I must take this oppor 
tunity to mention that my mother grieved us excessively one 
day by throwing away the ices which had been sent us from 
the table, because she would not believe it possible for the 
stomach to bear real ice, however it might be sweetened. 

Besides these dainties, which we gradually learned to enjoy 
&nd to digest with perfect ease, it was very agreeable for us 
children to be in some measure released from fixed hours of 
study and strict discipline. My father s ill-humour increased, 
he could not resign himself to the unavoidable. How he 

* The obsolete word " gossip" has been revived as an equivalent for 
the German " Gevatter." But it should be observed that this word not 
only signifies godfather, but that the person whose child has another per 
son for godfather or godmother) is that person s Gevatter, or Gevatte^in 
(feminine). 



68 TRUTH AND POETRY; FEOM MY OWN LIFE, 

tormented himself, my mother, the interpreter, the councillors, 
and all his friends, only to rid him of the Count ! In vain 
they represented to him that under existing circumstances the 
presence of such a man in the house was an actual benefit, 
and that the removal of the Count would be followed by a 
constant succession of officers or of privates. None of these 
arguments had any effect. To him the present seemed so 
intolerable, that his indignation prevented his conceiving any 
thing worse that could follow. 

In this way his activity, which he had been used chiefly to 
employ upon us, was crippled. The lessons he gave us were 
no longer required with the former exactness, and we tried to 
gratify our curiosity for military and other public proceedings 
as much as possible, not only at home, but also in the streets, 
which was the more easily done, as the front door, open day 
and night, was guarded by sentries who paid no attention to 
the running to and fro of restless children. 

The many affairs which were settled before the tribunal of 
the Royal Lieutenant had quite a peculiar charm, from his 
making it a point to accompany his decisions with some witty, 
ingenious, or lively turn. What he decreed was strictly just, 
his manner of expressing it whimsical and piquant. He 
seemed to have taken the Duke of Ossuna as his model. 
Scarcely a day passed in which the interpreter did not tell 
some anecdote or other of this kind to amuse us and my 
mother. This lively man had made a little collection of such 
Solomonian decisions ; but I only remember the general im 
pression, and cannot recall to my mind any particular case. 

By degrees we became better acquainted with the strange 
character of the Count. This man clearly understood his own 
peculiarities, and as there were times in which he was seized 
with a sort of dejection, hypochondria, or by whatever name 
we may call the evil demon, he withdrew into his room at 
such hours, which were often lengthened into days, saw no one 
but his valet, and in urgent cases could not even be prevailed 
upon to receive any one. But as soon as the Evil Spirit had 
left him, he appeared as before, active, mild, and cheerful. It 
might be inferred from the talk of his valet, Saint Jean, a 
small, thin man of lively good-nature, that in his earlier years 
he had caused a great misfortune when overcome by this 
temper ; and that therefore, in so important a position as his, 



THE TKANKFOKT PAINTERS. 69 

exposed to the eyes of all the world, he had earnestly resolved 
to avoid similar aberrations. 

During the very first days of the Count s residence with us, 
all the Frankfort artists, as Hirt, Schutz, Trautmann, Noth- 
nagel, and Junker, were called to him. They showed their 
finished pictures, and the Count bought what were for sale. 
My pretty, light room in the gable-end of the attic was given 
up to him, and immediately turned into a cabinet and studio, 
for he designed to keep all the artists at work for a long time, 
especially Seekatz of Darmstadt, whose pencil, particularly in 
simple and natural representations, highly pleased him. He 
therefore caused to be sent from Grasse, where his elder 
brother possessed a handsome house, the dimensions of all 
the rooms and cabinets ; then considered with the artists, the 
divisions of the walls, and fixed accordingly upon the size 01 
the large oil-pictures, which w^ere not to be set in frames, but 
to be fastened upon the walls like pieces of tapestry. And 
now the work went on zealously. Seekatz undertook country 
scenes, and succeeded extremely well in his old people and 
children, which were copied directly from nature. His young 
men did not answer so well, they were almost all too thin, and 
his women failed from the opposite cause. For as he had a 
little, fat, good, but unpleasant-looking wife, who would let 
him have no model but herself, he could produce nothing 
agreeable. He was also obliged to exceed the usual size of 
his figures. His trees had truth, but the foliage was over 
minute. He was a pupil of Brinkmann, whose pencil in easel 
pictures is not contemptible. 

Schutz, the landscape painter, had perhaps the best of the 
matter. He was thoroughly master of the Rhine country, and 
of the sunny tone which animates it in the fine season. Nor 
was he entirely unaccustomed to work on a larger scale, and 
then he showed no want of execution or keeping. His 
paintings were of a cheerful cast. 

Trautmann Rembrandtized some resurrection-miracles out of 
the New Testament, and alongside of them set fire to villages 
and mills. One cabinet was entirely allotted to him, as I 
found from the designs of the rooms. Hirt painted some 
good oak and beech forests. His cattle were praiseworthy. 
Junker, accustomed to the imitation of the most elaborate 
Dutch, was least able to manage this tapestry-work, but he 



70 TUTJTH AND POETRY ; FBOM MY OWN LIFE. 

condescended to ornament many compartments with flowers 
and fruits for a handsome price. 

As I had known all these men from my earliest youth, and 
had often visited them in their studios, and as the Count also 
liked to have me with him, I was present at the suggestions, 
consultations, and orders, as well as at the deliveries of the 
pictures, and ventured to speak my opinion freely when 
sketches and designs were handed in. I had already gained 
among amateurs, particularly at auctions, which I attended 
diligently, the reputation of being able to tell at once what 
any historical picture represented, whether taken from Biblical 
or Profane History, or from Mythology ; and even if I did 
not always hit upon the meaning of allegorical pictures, there 
was seldom any one present who understood it better than I. 
Often had I persuaded the artists to represent this or that 
subject, and I now joyfully made use of these advantages. I 
still remember writing a circumstantial essay, in which I 
described twelve pictures which were to exhibit the history of 
Joseph ; some of them were executed. 

After these achievements, which were certainly laudable in 
a boy, I will mention a little disgrace which happened to me 
within this circle of artists. I was well acquainted with all 
the pictures which had been from time to time brought into 
that room. My youthful curiosity left nothing unseen or 
unexplored. I once found a little black box behind the stove ; 
I did not fail to investigate what might be concealed in it, 
and drew back the bolt without long deliberation. The picture 
contained was certainly of a kind not usually exposed to view, 
and although I tried to bolt it again immediately, I was not 
quick enough. The Count entered and caught me " Who 
allowed you to open that box ?" he asked, with all his air of a 
Royal Lieutenant. I had not much to say for myself, and he 
immediately pronounced my sentence in a very stem manner : 
" For eight days," said he, " you shall not enter this room." 
I made a bow, and walked out. Even this order I obeyed 
most punctually, so that the good Seekatz, who was then at 
work in the room, was very much annoyed, for he liked to 
have me about him ; and, out of a little spite, I carried my 
obedience so far, that I left Seekatz s coffee, which I generally 
brought him, upon the threshold. He was then obliged to 
leave his work and fetch it, which he took so ill, that he almost 
conceived a dislike to me. 



FKE2TCH THEATBE. 71 

It now seems necessary to state more circumstantially and, to 
make intelligible how, under these circumstances, I made my 
way with more or less ease through the French language, which, 
however, I had never learned. Here, too, my natural gift was 
of service to me, enabling me easily to catch the sound of a 
language, its movements accent, tone, and all other outward 
peculiarities. I knew many words from the Latin ; Italian sug 
gested still more ; and by listening to servants and soldiers, 
sentries and visitors, I soon picked up so much that, if I could 
not join in conversation, I could at any rate manage single ques 
tions and answers. All this, however, was little compared to 
the profit I derived from the theatre. My grandfather had 
given me a free ticket, which I used daily, in spite of my 
father s reluctance, by dint of my mother s support. There I 
sat in the pit, before a foreign stage, and watched the more 
narrowly the movement and the expression, both of gesture 
and speech, as I understood little or nothing of what was said, 
and therefore could only derive entertainment from the action 
and the tone of voice. I understood least of comedy, because 
it was spoken rapidly, and related to the affairs of common 
life, of the phrases of which I knew nothing. Tragedy was 
not so often played, and the measured step, the rhythm of the 
Alexandrines, the generality of the expression, made it more 
intelligible to me in every way. It was not long before I took 
up Racine, which I found in my father s library, and de 
claimed the pieces to myself, in the theatrical style and 
manner, as the organ of my ear and the organ of speech, so 
nearly akin to that, had caught it, and this with considerable 
animation, although I could not perceive the connexion of a 
whole speech. I even learned entire passages by rote, like a 
trained talking-bird, which was easier to me, from having 
previously committed to memory passages from the Bible 
which are generally unintelligible to a child, and accustomed 
myself to reciting them in the tone of the Protestant preachers. 
The versified French comedy was then much in vogue ; the 
pieces of Destouches, Marivaux, and La Chaussee, were often 
produced, and I still remember distinctly many characteristic 
figures. Of those of Moliere I recollect less. What made 
the greatest impression upon me was the Hypermnestra of 
Lemiere, which, as a new piece, was brought out with care and 
often repeated. The Devin du Village, Rose et Colas, Annette et 



72 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

Lulin, made each a very pleasant impression upon me. I can 
even now recall the youths and maidens decorated with 
ribands, and their gestures. It was not long before the wish 
arose in me to see the interior of the theatre, for which 
many opportunities were offered me. For as I had not always 
patience to hear out the whole pieces, and often carried on all 
sorts of games with other children of my age in the corridors, 
and in the milder season even before the door, a handsome, 
lively boy joined us, who belonged to the theatre, and whom 
I had seen in many little parts, though only casually. He 
came to a better understanding with me than with the rest, as 
I could turn my French to account with him, and he the more 
attached himself to me because there was no boy of his age 
or his nation at the theatre, or anywhere in the neighbour 
hood. We also went together at other times, as well as 
during the play, and even while the representations went on 
he seldom left me in peace. He was a most delightful little 
braggart, chattered away charmingly and incessantly, and could 
tell so much of his adventures, quarrels, and other strange 
incidents, that he amused me wonderfully, and I learned from 
him in four weeks more of the language, and of the power of 
expressing myself in it, than can be imagined ; so that no one 
knew how I had attained the foreign tongue all at once, as if 
by inspiration. 

In the very earliest days of our acquaintance he took me 
with him upon the stage, and led me especially to the foyers, 
where the actors and actresses remained during the intervals 
of the performance, and dressed and undressed. The place 
was neither convenient nor agreeable, for they had squeezed 
the theatre into a concert-room, so that there were no separate 
chambers for the actors behind the stage. A tolerably large 
room adjoining, which had formerly served for card-parties, 
was now mostly used by both sexes in common, who appeared 
to feel as little ashamed before each other as before us children, 
if there was not always the strictest propriety in putting on or 
changing the articles of dress. I had never seen anything of 
the kind before, and yet from habit, after repeated visits, I 
soon found it quite natural. 

It was not long before a very peculiar interest of my own 
arose. Young Derones, for so I will call the boy whose 
acquaintance I still kept up, was, with the exception of his 



"DEBONES" AND HIS SISTER. 73 

boasting, a youth of good manners and very courteous de 
meanour. He made me acquainted with his sister, a girl who 
was a few years older than we were, and a very pleasant, well- 
grown girl, of regular form, brown complexion, black hair 
and eyes ; her whole deportment had about it something quiet, 
even sad. I tried to make myself agreeable to her in every way, 
but I could not attract her notice. Young girls think them 
selves far advanced beyond younger boys, and while aspiring 
to young men, they assume the manner of an aunt towards 
the boy whose first inclination is turned towards them. With 
a younger brother of his I had no acquaintance. 

Often, when their mother had gone to rehearsals, or was out 
visiting, we met at her house to play and amuse ourselves. 
I never went there without presenting the fair one with a 
flower, a fruit, or something else, wilich she always received 
very courteously, and thanked me for most politely, but I 
never saw her sad look brighten, and found no trace of her 
having given me a further thought. At last I fancied I had 
discovered her secret. The boy showed me a crayon- drawing 
of a handsome man, behind his mother s bed, which was hung 
with elegant silk curtains, remarking at the same time, with 
a sly look, that this was not papa, but just the same as papa ; 
and as he glorified this man, and told me many things in his 
circumstantial and ostentatious manner, I thought I had dis 
covered that the daughter might belong to the father, but the 
other two children to the intimate friend. I thus explained 
to myself her melancholy look, and loved her for it all the 
more. 

My liking for this girl assisted me in bearing the extrava 
gances of her brother, who was not always within bounds. I 
had often to endure prolix accounts of his exploits, how he 
had already often fought, without wishing to injure the other 
.all for the mere sake of honour. He had always contrived 
to disarm his adversary, and had then forgiven him ; nay, he 
was such a good fencer, that he was once very much perplexed 
by striking the sword of his opponent up into a high tree, so 
that it was not easy to be got again. 

What much facilitated my visits to the theatre was, that 
my free ticket, coming from the hands of the Schultkeiss, gave 
me access to any of the seats, and therefore also to those in 
the proscenium. This was very deep, after the French style, 



74 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

and was bordered on both sides with seats, which, surrounded 
by a low rail, ascended in several rows one behind another, 
so that the first seats were but a little elevated above the 
stage. The whole was considered a place of special honour, 
and was generally used only by officers, although the nearness 
of the actors destroyed, I will not say all illusion, but, in a 
measure, all enjoyment. I have thus experienced and seen 
with my own eyes the usage or abuse of which Voltaire so 
much complains. When the house was very full, and at 
the time troops were passing through the town, officers of 
distinction strove for this place of honour, which was gene 
rally occupied already, some rows of benches and chairs were 
placed in the proscenium on the stage itself, and nothing re 
mained for the heroes and heroines but to reveal their secrets 
in the very limited space between the uniforms and orders. 
I have even seen the Hypermnestra performed under such 
circumstances. 

The curtain did not fall between the acts, and I must yet 
mention a strange custom which I thought quite extraordi 
nary, as its inconsistency with art was to me, as a good 
German boy, quite unendurable. The theatre was considered 
the greatest sanctuary, and any disturbance occurring there 
would have been instantly resented as the highest crime 
against the majesty of the public. Therefore in all comedies, 
two grenadiers stood with their arms grounded, in full view, 
at the two sides of the back scene, and were witnesses of all 
that occurred in the bosom of the family. Since, as I said 
before, the curtain did not fall between the acts, two others, 
while music struck up, relieved guard, by coming from the 
wings, directly in front of the first, who retired in the same 
measured manner. Now, if such a practice was well fitted to 
destroy all that in the theatre is called illusion, this is the 
more striking, because it was done at a time when, accord 
ing to Diderot s principles and examples, the most natural 
naturalness was required upon the stage, and a perfect decep 
tion was proposed as the proper aim of theatrical art. Tra 
gedy, however, was absolved from any such military-police 
regulations, and the heroes of antiquity had the right of 
guarding themselves ; nevertheless, the same grenadiers stood 
near enough behind the side-scenes. 

I will also mention that I saw Diderot s " Father of a 



DUEL WITH 

Family," and " The Philosophers" of Palissot, and still per 
fectly remember the figure of the philosopher in the latter 
piece going upon all fours, and biting into a raw head of 
lettuce. 

All this theatrical variety could not, however, keep us chil 
dren always in the theatre. In fine weather we played in front 
of it, and in the neighbourhood, and committed all manner of 
absurdities, which, especially on Sundays and festivals, by no 
means corresponded to our personal appearance ; for I and my 
comrades then appeared dressed as I described myself in the 
tale, with the hat under the arm, and a little sword, the hilt or 
which was ornamented with a large silk knot. One day when 
we had long gone in this way, and Derones had joined us, he 
took it into his head to assert to me that I had insulted him, 
and must give him satisfaction. I could not, in truth, con 
ceive what was the cause of this ; but I accepted his chal 
lenge, and was going to draw my sword. However, he 
assured me that in such cases it was customary to go to 
secluded spots, in order to be able to settle the matter more 
conveniently. We therefore went behind some barns, and 
placed ourselves in the proper position. The duel took place 
in a somewhat theatrical style, the blades clashed, and the 
thrusts followed close upon each other ; but in the heat of the 
combat he remained with the point of his sword lodged in 
the knot of my hilt. This was pierced through, and he 
assured me that he had received the most complete satisfac 
tion ; then embraced me, also theatrically, and we went to 
the next coffee-house to refresh ourselves with a glass of 
almond-milk after our mental agitation, and to knit more 
closely the old bond of friendship. 

On this occasion I will relate another adventure which also 
happened to me at the theatre, although at a later time. I 
was sitting very quietly in the pit with one of my playmates, 
and we looked with pleasure at a pas seul, which was executed 
with much skill and grace by a pretty boy about our own age 
the son of a French dancing-master who was passing through 
the city. After the fashion of dancers, he was dressed in a 
close vest of red silk, which ending in a short hoop-petticoat, 
like a runner s apron, floated above the knee. We had given 
our meed of applause to this young artist with the whole 
public, when I know not how it occurred to me to make a 



76 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM 3VTY OWN LIFE. 

moral reflection. I said to my companion, " How handsomely 
this boy was dressed, and how well he looked ; who knows in 
how tattered a jacket he may sleep to-night!" All had 
already risen, but the crowd prevented our moving. A woman 
who had sat by me, and who was now standing close beside 
me, chanced to be the mother of the young artist, and felt 
much offended by my reflection. Unfortunately, she knew 
German enough to understand me, and spoke it just as much 
as was necessary to scold. She abused me violently. Who 
was I, she would like to know, that had a right to doubt the 
family and respectability of this young man ? At all events, 
she would be bound he was as good as I, and his talents might 
probably procure him a fortune, of which I could not even 
venture to dream. This moral lecture she read me in the 
crowd, and made those about me wonder what rudeness I had 
committed. As I could neither excuse myself nor escape from 
her, I was really embarrassed, and when she paused for a 
moment, said without thinking, " Well ! why do you make 
such a noise about it ? to-day red, to-morrow dead."* These 
words seemed to strike the woman dumb. She stared at me, 
and moved away from me as soon as it was in any degree 
possible. I thought no more of my words ; only, some time 
afterwards, they occurred to me, when the boy, instead of 
continuing to perform, became ill, and that very dangerously. 
Whether he died or not, I cannot say. 

Such intimations, by an unseasonably or even improperly 
spoken word, were held in repute even by the ancients, and it 
is very remarkable that the forms of belief and of superstition 
have always remained the same among all people and in all 
times. 

From the first day of the occupation of our city, there was 
no lack of constant diversion, especially for children and young 
people. Plays and balls, parades, and marches through the 
town, attracted our attention in all directions. The last par 
ticularly were always increasing, and the soldiers life seemed 
to us very merry and agreeable. 

The residence of the King s Lieutenant at our house pro 
cured us the advantage of seeing by degrees all the distin 
guished persons in the French army, and especially of 

* A German proverb, " Heute roth, morgen todt." 



MABSHAL DE BROGLIO. 77 

beholding close at hand the leaders whose names had already 
been made known to us by reputation. Thus we looked from 
stairs and landing-places, as if from galleries, very conveniently 
upon the generals who passed by. Before all I remember the 
PRINCE SOUBISE as a handsome, courteous gentleman, but 
most distinctly the MARECHAL DE BROGLIO, who was a 
younger man, not tall, but well-built, lively, active, and 
abounding in keen glances. 

He often came to the King s Lieutenant, and it was soon 
remarked that the conversation was on weighty matters. We 
had scarcely become accustomed to having strangers quartered 
upon us in the first three months, than a rumour was obscurely 
circulated that the Allies were on the march, and that Duke 
Ferdinand of Brunswick was coming to drive the French from 
the Maine. Of these, who could not boast of any especial 
success in war, no high opinion was held, and after the battle 
of Rossbach it was thought they might be dispersed. The 
greatest confidence was placed in Duke Ferdinand, and all 
those favourable to Prussia awaited with eagerness their de 
livery from the yoke hitherto borne My father was in some 
what better spirits my mother was apprehensive. She was 
wise enough to see that a small present evil might easily be 
exchanged for a great affliction ; since it was but too plain 
that the French would not advance to meet the Duke, but 
would wait an attack in the neighbourhood of the city. A 
defeat of the French, a flight, a defence of the city, if it were 
only to cover their rear and hold the bridge, a bombardment, 
a sack all these presented themselves to the excited imagi 
nation, and gave anxiety to both parties. My mother, wiio 
could bear everything but suspense, imparted her fears to the 
Count through the interpreter. She received the answer 
usual in such cases : she might be quite easy, for there was 
nothing to fear, and should keep quiet and mention the matter 
to no one. 

Many troops passed through the city ; we learned that they 
halted at Bergen. The coming and going, the riding and 
running constantly increased, and our house was in an uproar 
day and night. At this time I often saw Marshal de Broglio, 
always cheerful, always the same in look and manner, and I 
was afterwards pleased to find a man whose form had made 
such a good and lasting impression upon me, so honourably 
mentioned in history. 



78 TRUTH AKD POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE, 

Thus, after an unquiet Passion- week, the Good-Friday of 
1759 arrived. A profound stillness announced the approach 
ing storm. We children were forbidden to quit the house : 
my father had no quiet, and went out. The battle began : I 
ascended to the garret, where indeed I was prevented seeing 
the country round, but could very well hear the thunder of 
cannon and the general discharge of musketry. After some 
hours we saw the first symptoms of the battle in a line of 
wagons, in which the wounded, with various sad mutilations 
and gestures, were slowly drawn by us, to be taken to the con 
vent of St. Mary, now transformed into a hospital. The com 
passion of the citizens was instantly moved. Beer, wine, bread, 
and money were distributed to those who were yet able to take 
them. But when, some time after, wounded and captive Ger 
mans were seen in the train, the pity knew no limits, and it 
seemed as if everybody would strip himself of every moveable 
that he possessed to assist his suffering countrymen. 

The prisoners, however, were an evidence of a battle un 
favourable to the allies. My father, whose party feelings made 
him quite certain that these would come off victorious, had 
the violent temerity to go forth to meet the expected victors, 
without thinking that the beaten party must pass over him 
in their flight. He first repaired to his garden before the 
Friecfberg gate, where he found everything lonely and quiet, 
then he ventured to the Bornheim heath, where he soon 
descried various stragglers of the army, who were scattered 
and amused themselves by shooting at the boundary-stones, 
so that the rebounding lead whizzed round the head of the 
inquisitive wanderer. He therefore considered it more pru 
dent to go back, and learned on enquiry what the report of 
the firing might have before informed him, that all stood well 
for the French, and that there was no thought of retreating. 
Reaching home in an ill-humour, the sight of his wounded 
and captured countrymen brought him altogether out of his 
usual self-command. He also caused various donations to be 
given to the passers by, but only the Germans were to have 
them, which was not always possible, as fate had packed 
together both friend and foe. 

My mother and we children, who had already relied on 
the Count s word, and had therefore passed a tolerably quiet 
day, were highly rejoiced, and my mother doubly consoled, the 



3UAKKEL WITH COUNT THORANE. 79 

next day, when having consulted the oracle of her treasure- 
box, by the prick of a needle, she received a very comfortable 
answer, both for present and future. We wished our father 
similar faith and feelings ; we flattered him as much as we 
could ; we entreated him to take some food, from w r hich he 
had abstained all day; but he repulsed our caresses and 
every enjoyment, and betook himself to his chamber. Our 
joy, however, was not interrupted ; the affair was decided ; 
the King s Lieutenant, who, against his habit, had been oil 
horseback to-day, at last returned home, where his presence 
was more necessary than ever. We sprang to meet him, 
kissed his hands, and testified our delight. This seemed 
much to please him. "Well," said he more kindly than 
usual, " I am glad also for your sakes, my dear children." 
He immediately ordered that sweetmeats, sweet wine, and the 
best of everything should be given us, and went to his room, 
already surrounded by a crowd of the urgent, the demanding, 
and the suppliant. 

We had now a fine collation, pitied our poor father who 
would not partake of it, and pressed our mother to call him. 
in ; but she, more prudent than we, well knew how distasteful 
such gifts would be to him. In the meantime she had pre 
pared some supper, and would readily have sent a portion up 
to his room, but he never tolerated such an irregularity even 
in the most extreme cases ; and after the sweet things were 
removed, we endeavoured to persuade him to corne down 
into the ordinary dining-room. At last he allowed himself to 
be persuaded unwillingly, and we had no notion of the mischief 
which we were preparing for him and ourselves. The stair 
case ran through the whole house, along all the ante-rooms. 
My father in coming down had to go directly past the Count s 
apartment. This ante-room was so full of people, that the 
Count, to get through much at once, resolved to come out, 
and this happened unfortunately at the moment when my 
father descended. The Count met him cheerfully, greeted 
him, and remarked, " You will congratulate yourselves and 
us that this dangerous affair is so happily terminated." " By 
no means !" replied my father in a rage ; " would that it had 
driven you to the devil, even if I had gone with you." The 
Count restrained himself for a moment, and then broke out 
with wrath ."You shall pay for this," cried he; "you shall 



80 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

find that you have not thus insulted the good cause and 
myself for nothing !" 

My father, meanwhile, came down very calmly, seated 
himself near us, seemed more cheerful than before, and began 
to eat. We were glad of this, unconscious of the dangerous 
method in which he had rolled the stone from his heart. Soon 
afterwards my mother was called out, and we had great 
pleasure in chattering to our father about the sweet things 
the Count had given us. Our mother did not return. At 
last the interpreter came in. At a hint from him we were 
sent to bed ; it was already late, and we willingly obeyed. 
After a night quietly slept through, we heard of the violent 
commotion which had shaken the house the previous evening. 
The King s Lieutenant had instantly ordered my father to be 
led to the guard-house. The subalterns well knew that he 
was never to be contradicted ; yet they had often earned thanks 
by delaying the execution of his orders. The interpreter^ 
whose presence of mind never forsook him, contrived to excite 
this disposition in them very strongly. The tumult, more 
over, was so great, that a delay brought with it its own con 
cealment and excuse. He had called out my mother, and 
put her, as it were, into the hands of the adjutants, that by 
prayers and representations she might gain a brief postpone 
ment of the matter. He himself hurried up to the Count, 
who with great self-command had immediately retired into 
the inner room, and would rather allow the most urgent 
affair to stand still, than wreak on an innocent person the ill- 
humour once excited in him, and give a decision derogatory 
to his dignity. 

The address of the interpreter to the Count, the train of the 
whole conversation, were often enough repeated to us by the 
fat interpreter, who prided himself not a little on the fortunate 
result, so that I can still describe it from recollection. 

The interpreter had ventured to open the cabinet and enter, 
an act which was severely prohibited. "What do you want?" 
shouted the Count, angrily. " Out with you ! no one but St. 
Jean has a right to enter here." 

"Well, suppose I am St. Jean for a moment," answered 
the interpreter. 

" It would need a powerful imagination for that ! Two of 
him would not make one such as you. He tire !" 



THE GOSSIP AND COUNT THORANE. 81 

" Count, you have received a great gift from heaven, and 
to that I appeal." 

"You think to flatter me! Do not fancy you will suc 
ceed." 

" You have the great gift, Count, even in moments of pas 
sion in moments of rage, of listening to the opinions of 
others." 

"Well, well, the question now is just about opinions, to 
which I have listened too long. I know but too well that we 
are not liked here, and that these citizens look askance at 



us/ 



" Not all !" 

" Very many. What ! These towns will be imperial towns, 
will they? They saw their emperor elected and crowned, 
and when, being unjustly attacked, he is in danger of losing 
his dominions and surrendering to an usurper; when he 
fortunately finds faithful allies who pour out their blood and 
treasure in his behalf they will not put up with the slight 
burden that falls to their share, towards humbling the enemy!" 

"But you have long known these sentiments, and have 
endured them like a wise man ; they are, besides, held only 
by a minority. A few, dazzled by the splendid qualities of the 
enemy, w r hom you yourself prize as an extraordinary man, a 
few only as you are aware." 

"Yes, indeed! I have known and suffered it too long! 
otherwise this man would not have presumed to utter such 
insults to my face, and at the most critical moment. Let 
them be as many as they please, they shall be punished in the 
person of this their audacious representative, and perceive 
what they have to expect." 

" Only delay, Count." 

" In certain things one cannot act too promptly." 

" Only a little delay, Count." 

"Neighbour, you think to mislead me into a false step; 
you shall not succeed." 

" I would neither lead you into a false step nor restrain you 
from one ; your resolution is just ; it becomes the Frenchman 
and the King s Lieutenant; but consider that you are also 
Count Thorane !" 

" He has no right to interfere here." 

" But the gallant man has a right to be heard." 

a 



82 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 



" What would he say then r" 

" King s Lieutenant," he would begin, " you have so long 
had patience with so many gloomy, untoward, bungling men, 
if they were not really too bad. This man has certainly been, 
too bad, but control yourself, King s Lieutenant, and every 
one will praise and extol you on that account." 

" You know I can often endure your jests, but do not abuse 
my good- will. These men are they then completely blinded ? 
Suppose we had lost the battle, what would have been their 
fate at this moment? We fight up to the gates, we shut up 
the city, we halt, we defend ourselves to cover our retreat 
over the bridge. Think you, the enemy would have stood 
with his hands before him? He throws grenades, and what 
he has at hand, and they catch where they can. This house 
holder what would he have ? Here, in these rooms, a bomb 
might now have burst, and another have followed it; in these- 
rooms, the cursed China-paper of which I have spared, in 
commoding myself, by not nailing up my maps ! They ought 
to have spent the whole day on their knees." 

" How many would have done that!" 

"They ought to have prayed for a blessing on us, and 
to have gone out to meet the generals and officers with 
tokens of honour and joy, and the wearied soldiers with 
refreshments. Instead of this, the poison of party-spirit de 
stroys the fairest and happiest moments of my life, won by 
so many cares and efforts." 

" It is party-spirit ; but you will only increase it by the 
punishment of this man. Those who think with him will 
proclaim you a tyrant and a barbarian: they will consider 
him a martyr, who has suffered for the good cause ; and even 
those of the other opinion, who are now his opponents, will 
see in him only their fellow- citizen, will pity him, and while 
they confess your justice, will yet feel that you have pro 
ceeded too severely." 

" I have listened to you too much already, now, away 
with you!" 

" Hear only this. Remember this is the most unheard-of 
thing that could befall this man, this family. You have had 
no reason to be edified by the good- will of the master of the 
house ; but the mistress has anticipated all your wishes, and 
the children have regarded you as their uncle. With this 



THOHANE S MAGNANIMITY. 83 

single blow, you will for ever destroy the peace and happi 
ness of this dwelling. Indeed, I may say, that a bomb falling 
into the house, would not have occasioned greater desolation. 
I have so often admired your self-command, Count ; give me 
this time opportunity to adore you. A warrior is worthy of 
honour who considers himself a guest in the house of an 
enemy; but here there is no enemy, only a mistaking man. 
Control yourself, and you will acquire an everlasting fame." 

" That would be odd," replied the Count, with a smile. 

"Merely natural," continued the interpreter; " I have not 
sent the wife and children to your feet, because I know you 
detest such scenes; but I will depict to you this wife and 
these children, how they will thank you. I will depict them 
to you conversing all their lives of the battle of Bergen, and 
of your magnanimity on this day, relating it to their children, 
and children s children, and inspiring even strangers with 
their own interest for you: an act of this kind can never 
perish." 

" But you do not hit my weak side yet, interpreter! About 
posthumous fame I am not in the habit of thinking ; that is 
for others, not for me ; but to do right at the moment, not to 
neglect my duty, not to prejudice my honour that is my 
care. We have already had too many words ; now go and 
receive the thanks of the thankless, whom I spare." 

The interpreter, surprised and moved by this unexpectedly 
favourable issue, could not restrain his tears, and would have 
kissed the Count s hands. The Count motioned him off, and 
said severely and seriously, " You know I cannot bear such 
things." And with these words he went into the ante-room, 
to attend to his pressing affairs, and hear the claims of so 
many expectant persons. So the matter was disposed of, 
and the next morning we celebrated with the remnants of the 
yesterday s sweetmeats, the passing over of an evil through 
the threatenings of which we had happily slept. 

Whether the interpreter really spoke so wisely, or merely 
so painted the scene to himself, as one is apt to do after 
a good and fortunate action, I will not decide ; at least he 
never varied it in repeating it. Indeed, this day seemed 
to him both the most anxious and the most glorious in his 
life. 

One little incident will show how the Count in general 

G2 



84 TRUTH AND POETRY ; T EOM MY OWN LIFE. 

rejected all false parade, never assumed a title which did not 
belong to him, and how witty he was in his more cheerful 

moods. 

A man of the higher class, who was one of the abstruse, soli 
tary Frankforters, thought he must complain of the quartering 
of the soldiers upon him. He came in person, and the inter 
preter proffered him his services, but the other supposed that 
he did not need them. He came before the Count with a 
most becoming bow, and said, "Your excellency!" The 
Count returned the bow, as well as the " excellency." Struck 
by this mark of honour, and not supposing but that the title 
was too humble, he stooped lower, and said, " Monseigneur." 
"Sir," said the Count, very seriously, "we will not go further, 
or else we may easily bring it to Majesty." The ether gentle 
man was extremely confused, and had not a word to utter. 
The interpreter, standing at some distance, and apprised of 
the whole affair, was wicked enough not to mo.ve, but the 
Count, with much cheerfulness, continued, " Well now, for 
instance, sir, what is your name?" " Spangenberg," replied 
the other. " And mine," said the Count, " is Thorane. 
Spangenberg, what is your business with Thorane? Now, 
then, let us sit down; the affair shall at once be settled." 

And thus the affair was indeed settled at once, to the great 
satisfaction of the person I have here named Spangenberg, 
and the same evening, in our family circle, the story was not 
only told by the waggish interpreter, but was given with all 
the circumstances and gestures. 

After these confusions, disquietudes, and grievances, the 
former security and thoughtlessness soon returned, in which 
the young particularly live from day to day, if it be in any 
degree possible. My passion for the French theatre grew 
with every performance. I did not miss an evening, though 
on every occasion, when after the play I sat down with the 
family to supper, often putting up with the remains, I had 
to endure the constant reproaches of my father, that theatres 
were useless, and would lead to nothing. In these cases I 
adduced all and every argument which is at hand for the 
apologists of the stage when they fall into a difficulty like 
mine. Vice in prosperity and virtue in misfortune, are in. 
the end set right by poetical justice. Those beautiful exam 
ples of misdeeds punished. Miss Sarah Sampson, and the Mer- 



JUVENILE ATTEMPT AT THE DEAMA. 85 

chant of London, were very energetically cited on my part; 
but, on the other hand, I often came off worst when the 
Fouberies de Scapin, and others of the sort, were in the bill, 
and I was forced to bear reproaches for the delight felt by 
the public in the deceits of intriguing servants, and the suc 
cessful follies of prodigal young men. Neither party was 
convinced; but my father was very soon reconciled to the 
theatre when he saw that I advanced with incredible rapidity 
in the French language. 

Men are so constituted that everybody would rather under 
take himself what he sees done bv others, whether he has 

i/ 

aptitude for it or not. I had soon exhausted the whole range 
of the French stage; several pieces I had already witnessed 
for the third and fourth times ; all had passed before my eyes 
and mind, from the stateliest tragedy to the most frivolous 
afterpiece; and as when a child I had presumed to imitate 
Terence, I did not fail now as a boy, on a much more inciting 
occasion, to copy the French forms to the best of my ability 
and want of ability. There were then performed some half- 
mythological, half-allegorical pieces in the taste of PIROIST ; 
they partook somewhat of the nature of parody, and were 
much liked. These representations particularly attracted 
me : the little gold wings of a lively Mercury, the thunder 
bolt of a disguised Jupiter, an amorous Danae, or by whatever 
name a fair one visited by the gods might be called, if in 
deed it were not a shepherdess or huntress to whom they 
descended. And as elements of this kind, from Ovid s Meta 
morphosis, or the Pantheon Mythicum of Pomey, were hum 
ming in swarms about my head I had soon put together in 
my imagination a little piece of the kind, of which I can only 
say that the scene was rural, and that there was no lack 
in it of king s daughters, princes, or gods. Mercury, espe 
cially, made so vivid an impression on my senses, that I 
could almost be sworn that I had seen him with my own 
eyes. 

I presented my friend Derones with a very neat copy, made 
by myself, which he accepted with quite a special grace, and 
with a truly patronizing air, glanced hastily over the manu 
script, pointed out a few grammatical blunders, found some 
speeches too long, and at last promised to examine and judge 
the work more attentively when he had the requisite leisure. 



86 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

To my modest question, whether the piece could by any 
chance be performed, he assured me that it was not alto 
gether impossible. In the theatre, he said, a great deal went 
by favour, and he would support me with all his heart : only 
the affair must be kept private ; for he had himself once on a 
time surprised the directors with a piece of his own, and it 
would certainly have been acted if it had not been too soon 
detected that he was the author. I promised him all possible 
silence; and already saw in my mind s eye the name of my 
piece posted up in large letters on the corners of the streets 
and squares. 

Light-minded as my friend generally was, the opportunity 
of playing the master was but too desirable. He read the 
piece through with attention, and while he sat down with me 
to make some trivial alterations, turned the whole thing, in 
the course of the conversation, completely topsy-turvy, so 
that not one stone remained on another. He struck out, 
added, took away one character, substituted another, in 
short, went on with the maddest wantonness in the world, so 
that my hair stood on end. My previous persuasion that he 
must understand the matter, allowed him to have his way; 
for he had often laid before me so much about the Three 
Unities of Aristotle, the regularity of the French drama, the 
probability, the harmony of the verse, and all that belongs to 
these, that I was forced to regard him, not merely as informed, 
but thoroughly grounded. He abused the English and scorned 
the Germans; in short, he laid before me the whole drama 
turgic litany w r hich I have so often in my life been compelled 
to hear. 

Like the boy in the fable, I carried my mangled offspring 
home, and strove in vain to bring it to life. As, however, I 
would not quite abandon it, I caused a fair copy of my first 
manuscript, after a few alterations, to be made by our clerk, 
which I presented to my father, and thus gained so much that 
for a long time he let me eat my supper in quiet after the 
play was over. 

This unsuccessful attempt had made me reflective, and I 
resolved now to learn at the very sources, these theories, 
these laws, to which every one apfpealed, but which had be 
come suspicious to me chiefly through the unpoliteness of my 
arrogant master. This was not indeed difficult, but laborious. 



DRAMATIC THEORIES. 7 

I immediately read Corneille s Treatise on the Three Unities, 
and learned from that how people would have it, but why 
they desired it so was by no means clear to me ; and what 
was worst of all, I fell at once into still greater confusion 
when I made myself acquainted with the disputes on the 
dd, and read the prefaces in which Corneille and Racine 
are obliged to defend themselves against the critics and 
public. Here at least I plainly saw that no man knew what 
he wanted; that a piece like the Cid, which had produced 
the noblest effect, was to be condemned at the command of 
an all-powerful cardinal; that Racine, the idol of the French 
living in my day, who had now also become my idol (for I 
had got intimately acquainted with him when Schoff Von 
Olenschlager made us children act Britonnicus, in which the 
part of Nero fell to me) that Racine, I say, even in his own 
day, was not able to get on with the amateurs nor critics. 
Through all this I became more perplexed than ever, and 
after having pestered myself a long time with this talking 
backwards and forwards, and theoretical quackery of the pre 
vious century, threw them to the dogs, and was the more 
resolute in casting all the rubbish away, the more I thought 
I observed that the authors themselves who had produced 
excellent things, when they began to speak about them, when 
they set forth the grounds of their treatment, when they 
desired to defend, justify, or excuse themselves, were not 
always able to hit the proper mark. I hastened back again, 
therefore, to the living present, attended the theatre far more 
zealously, read more scrupulously and connectedly, so that I 
had perseverance enough this time to work through the whole 
of Racine and Moliere, and a great part of Corneille. 

The King s Lieutenant still lived at our house. He in no 
respect had changed his deportment, especially towards us; 
but it was observable, and the interpreter made it still more 
evident to us, that he no longer discharged his duties with 
the same cheerfulness and zeal as at the outset, though always 
with the same rectitude and fidelity. His character and 
habits, which showed the Spaniard rather than the French 
man ; his caprices, which were not without their influence on 
his business ; his unbending will under all circumstances ; his 
susceptibility as to everything that concerned his person or 
reputation ^-all this together might perhaps sometimes bring 



TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

him into conflict with his superiors. Add to this, that he had 
been wounded in a duel, which had arisen in the theatre, and 
it was deemed wrong that the King s Lieutenant, himself 
chief of police, should have committed a punishable offence. 
As I have said, all this may have contributed to make him 
live more retired, and here and there perhaps to act with less 
energy. 

Meanwhile, a considerable part of the pictures he had or 
dered had been delivered. Count Thorane passed his leisure 
hours in examining them, while in the aforesaid gable-room 
he had them nailed up, canvas after canvas, large and small, 
side by side, and because there was want of space, even one 
over another, and then taken down and rolled up. The works 
were constantly inspected anew; the parts that were con 
sidered the most successful were repeatedly enjoyed; but 
there was no want of wishes that this or that had been dif 
ferently done. 

Hence arose a new and very singular operation. As one 
painter best executed figures, another middle-grounds and 
distances, a third trees, a fourth flowers, it struck the Count 
that these talents might perhaps be combined in the paint 
ings, and that in this way perfect works might be produced. 
A beginning was made at once, by having for instance some 
beautiful cattle painted into a finished landscape. But be 
cause there was not always adequate room for all, and a few 
sheep more or less was no great matter to the cattle-painter, 
the largest landscape proved in the end too narrow. Now 
also the painter of figures had to introduce the shepherd, and 
some travellers ; these deprived each other of air, as we may 
say; and we marvelled that they were not all stifled, even in 
the most open country. No one could anticipate what was 
to come of the matter, and when it was finished it gave no 
satisfaction. The painters were annoyed. They had gained 
something by their first orders, but lost by these after-labours, 
though the Count paid for them also very liberally. And as 
the parts worked into each other in one picture by several 
hands, produced no good effect after all the trouble, every 
one, at last, fancied that his own work had been spoiled and 
destroyed by that of the others ; hence the artists were within 
a hair s-breadth of falling out, and becoming irreconcilably 
hostile to each other. These alterations, or rather additions, 



THE PAINTER SEEKATZ. 89 

were made in the before-mentioned studio, where I remained 
quite alone with the artists ; and it amused me to hunt out 
from the studies, particularly of animals, this or that indi 
vidual or group, and to propose it for the foreground or the 
distance, in which respect they many times, either from con 
viction or kindness, complied with my wishes. 

The partners in this affair were therefore greatly dis 
couraged, especially Seekatz, a very hypochondriacal, retired 
man, who indeed by his incomparable humour was the best 
of companions among friends, but who, when he worked, 
desired to work alone, abstracted and perfectly free. This 
man, after solving difficult problems, and finishing them with 
the greatest diligence and the warmest love, of which he was 
always capable, was forced to travel repeatedly from Darm 
stadt to Frankfort, either to change something in his own pic 
tures, or to touch up those of others, or even to allow, under 
his superintendence, a third person to convert his pictures into 
a variegated mess. His peevishness augmented, his resistance 
became more decided, and a great deal of effort was necessary 
on our part to guide this "gossip" for he was one also 
according to the Count s wishes. I still remember that when 
the boxes were standing ready to pack up all the pictures, in 
the order in which the upholsterer at their place of destina 
tion might fix them up at once, a small but indispensable bit 
of afterwork was demanded, but Seekatz could not be moved 
to come over. He had, by way of conclusion, done the best 
he could, having represented in paintings to be placed over 
the doors, the four elements as children and boys, after life, 
and having expended the greatest care, not only on the figures, 
but on the accessories. These were delivered and paid for, 
and he thought he was quit of the business for ever ; but now 
he was to come over again, that he might enlarge, by a 
few touches of his pencil, some figures, the size of which was 
too small. Another, he thought, could do it just as well ; he 
had already set about some new work ; in short, he would not 
come. The time for sending off the pictures was at hand; 
they must also have opportunity to dry ; every delay was pre 
carious ; and the Count, in despair, was about to have him 
fetched in military fashion. We all wished to see the pic 
tures finally gone, and found at last no expedient than for the 
gossip interpreter to seat himself in a wagon, and fetch over 



90 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIPE. 

the refractory subject, with his wife and child. He was kindly 
received by the Count, well treated, and at last dismissed with 
liberal payment. 

After the pictures had been sent away, there was great 
peace in the house. The gable-room in the attic was cleaned 
and given up to me ; and my father, when he saw the boxes 
go, could not refrain from wishing to send off the Count after 
them. For much as the tastes of the Count coincided with 
his own, much as he must have rejoiced to see his principle of 
patronizing living artists so generously followed out by a man 
richer than himself, much as it may have flattered him that 
his collection had been the occasion of bringing so consider 
able a profit to a number of brave artists in a pressing time, 
he nevertheless felt such a repugnance to the foreigner who 
had intruded into his house, that he could not think well 
of any of his doings. One ought to employ painters, but not 
degrade them to paper-stainers ; one ought to be satisfied with 
what they have done, according to their conviction and ability, 
even if it does not thoroughly please one, and not be per 
petually carping at it. In short, in spite of all the Count s 
own generous endeavours, there could, once for all, be no 
mutual understanding. My father only visited that room when 
the Count w r as at table, and I can recall but one instance, 
when, Seekatz having excelled himself, and the wish to see 
these pictures having brought the whole house together, my 
father and the Count met, and manifested a common pleasure 
in these works of art, which they could not take in each other. 

Scarcely, therefore, had the house been cleared of the chests 
and boxes, than the plan for removing the Count, which had 
formerly been begun, but was afterwards interrupted, was re 
sumed. The endeavour was made to gain justice by repre 
sentations, equity by entreaties, favour by influence, and the 
quarter-masters were prevailed upon to decide thus : the 
Count was to change his lodgings, and our house, in con 
sideration of the burden borne dav and niiit for several 

j 

years uninterruptedly, was to be exempt for the future from 
billetting. But, to furnish a plausible pretext for this, we 
were to take in lodgers on the first floor, which the Count 
had occupied, and thus render a new quartering as it were 
impossible. The Count, who after the separation from his 
dear pictures felt no further peculiar interest in the house, 



DEPARTURE OF THOBANE. 91 

and hoped moreover to be soon recalled and placed else 
where, was pleased to move without opposition to another 
good residence, and left us in peace and good- will. Soon 
afterwards he quitted the city, and received different ap 
pointments in gradation, but, it was rumoured, not to his 
own satisfaction. Meantime, he had the pleasure of seeing 
the pictures which he had preserved with so much care felici 
tously arranged in his brother s chateau ; he wrote sometimes, 
sent dimensions, and had different pieces executed by the 
artists so often named. At last we heard nothing further 
about him, except after several years we were assured that he 
had died as governor of one of the French colonies in the 
West Indies. 



FOTJETH BOOK. 



MUCH inconvenience as the quartering of the French had 
occasioned us, we had become so accustomed to it, that we 
could not fail to miss it, nor could we children fail to feel 
as if the house were deserted. Moreover it was not decreed 
that we should again attain perfect family unity. New 
lodgers were already agreed upon, and after some sweeping 
and scouring, planing and rubbing with bees -wax, painting 
and varnishing, the house was completely restored again. The 
chancery-director Moritz, with his family, very worthy Mends 
of my parents, moved in. He was not a native of Frankfort, 
but an able jurist and man of business, and managed the legal 
affairs of many small princes, counts, and lords. I never 
saw him otherwise than cheerful and pleasant, and diligent 
with his law papers. His wife and children, gentle, quiet, 
and benevolent, did not indeed increase the sociableness of 
our house, for they kept to themselves ; but a stillness, a 
peace returned, which we had not enjoyed for a long time. 
I now again occupied my attic room, in which the ghosts 
of the many pictures sometimes hovered before me, while 
I strove to frighten them away by labour and study. 

The Counsellor of Legation Moritz, a brother of the chan 
cellor, came from this time often to our house. He was even 
more a man of the world, had a handsome figure, while 
his manners were easy and agreeable. He also managed 
the affairs of different persons of rank, and on occasions 
of meetings of creditors and imperial commissions fre 
quently came into contact with my father. They had a 
high opinion of each other, and commonly stood on the side 
of the creditors, though they were generally obliged to per 
ceive, much to their vexation, that a majority of the agents 
on such occasions are usually gained over to the side of the 
debtors. The counsellor of legation readily communicated 
his knowledge, was a friend to the mathematics, and as these 
did not occur in his present course of life, he made himself 



LESSONS IN DRAWING. 93 

a pleasure by helping me on in this branch of study. I 
was thus enabled to finish my architectural sketches more 
accurately than heretofore, and to profit more by the instruc 
tion of a drawing-master, who now also occupied us an hour 
every day. 

This good old man was indeed only half an artist. We 
were obliged to draw and combine strokes, from which eyes 
and noses, lips and ears, nay, at last, whole faces and heads, 
were to arise, but of natural or artistic forms there was no 
thought. We were tormented a long while with this quid 
pro quo of the human figure, and when the so-called Passions 
of Le Brun were given us to copy, it was supposed at last 
that we had made great progress. But even these caricatures 
did not improve us. Then we went off to landscapes, foliage, 
and all the things which in ordinary instruction are practised 
without consistency or method. Finally we dropped into 
close imitation and neatness of strokes, without troubling 
ourselves about the merit or taste of the original. 

In these attempts our father led the way in an exemplary 
manner. He had never drawn, but he was unwilling to 
remain behind now that his children pursued this art, and 
would give, even in his old age, an example how they should 
proceed in their youth. Several heads, therefore, of Piazetta, 
from his well-known sheets in small octavo, he copied with 
an English lead-pencil upon the finest Dutch paper. In 
these he not only observed the greatest clearness of outline, 
but most accurately imitated the hatching of the copper-plate 
with a light hand only too slightly, as in his desire to avoid 
hardness he brought no keeping into his sketches. Yet they 
were always soft and accurate. His unrelaxing and untiring 
assiduity went so far, that he drew the whole considerable 
collection number by number, while we children jumped from 
one head to another, and chose only those that pleased us. 

About this time the long- debated project, long under con 
sideration, for giving us lessons in music, was carried into 
effect ; and the last impulse to it certainly deserves mention. 
It was settled that we should learn the harpsichord ; but there 
was always a dispute about the choice of a master. At last 
I went once accidentally into the room of one of my com 
panions, who was just taking his lesson on the harpsichord, 
and found the teacher a most charming man. For each 



94 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

finger of the right and left hand he had a nickname, by 
which he indicated in the merriest way when it was to be 
used. The black and white keys were likewise symbolically 
designated, and even the tones appeared under figurative 
names. Such a motley company worked most pleasantly 
together. Fingering and time seemed to become perfectly 
easy and obvious, and while the scholar was put into the 
best humour, everything else succeeded beautifully 

Scarcely had I reached home, than I importuned my 
parents to set about the matter in good earnest at last, and 
give us this incomparable man for our master on the harp 
sichord. They hesitated, and made inquiries; they indeed 
heard nothing bad of the teacher ; but, at the same time, 
nothing particularly good. Meanwhile I had informed my 
sister of all the droll names ; we could hardly wait for the 
lesson, and succeeded in having the man engaged. 

The reading of the notes began first, but as no jokes 
occurred here, we comforted ourselves with the hope that 
when we went to the harpsichord, and the fingers were 
needed, the jocular method would commence. But neither 
keys nor fingering seemed to afford opportunity for any com 
parisons. Dry as the notes were, with their strokes on and 
between the five lines, the black and white keys were no less so : 
and not a syllable was heard either of " thumbling," " point- 
eiiing," or " goldfinger," while the countenance of the man 
remained as imperturbable during his dry teaching as it had 
been before during his dry jests. My sister reproached me 
most bitterly for having deceived her, and actually believed 
that it was all an invention of mine. But I was myself con 
founded and learned little, though the man at once went 
regularly enough to work ; for I kept always expecting that 
the early jokes would make their appearance, and so con 
soled my sister from one day to another. They did not 
reappear, however, and I should never have been able to 
explain the riddle if another accident had not solved it for 
me. 

One of my companions came in during a lesson, and at 
once all the pipes of the humorous jet d eau were opened ; 
the "thumblings" and " pointerlings," the "pickers" and 
"stealers," as he used to call the fingers, the "falings" 
and "gaHngs," meaning "f" and "g," the "fielings" and 



THE ECCENTRIC MUSIC-MASTER. 95 

"gielings," meaning "f" and "g" sharp,* became once more 
extant, and made the most wonderful mannikins. My young 
friend could not leave off laughing, and was rejoiced that 
one could learn in such a merry manner. He vowed that 
he would give his parents no peace until they had given him 
such an excellent man for a teacher. 

And thus the way to two arts was early enough opened to 
me, according to the principles of a modern theory of educa 
tion, merely by good luck, and without any conviction that I 
should be furthered therein by a native talent. My father 
maintained that everybody ought to learn drawing; for 
which reason, he especially venerated the Emperor Maxi 
milian, by whom this had been expressly commanded. He 
therefore held me to it more steadily than to music, which, 
on the other hand, he especially recommended to my sister, 
and even out of the hours for lessons kept her fast, during 
a good part of the day, at her harpsichord. 

But the more I was in this way made to press on, the 
more I wished to press forward of myself, and my hours 
of leisure were employed in all sorts of curious occupations. 
From my earliest years I felt a love for the investigation of 
natural things. It is often regarded as an instinct of cruelty 
that children like at last to break, tear, and devour objects 
with which for a long time they have played, .and which 
they have handled in various manners. Yet even in this way 
is manifested the curiosity, the desire of learning how such 
things hang together, how they look within. I remember 
that as a child, I pulled flowers to pieces to see how the leaves 
were inserted into the calyx, or even plucked birds to observe 
how the feathers were inserted into the wings. Children are 
not to be blamed for this, when even our naturalists believe 
they get their knowledge oftener by separation and division 
than by union and combination, more by killing than by 
making alive. 

An armed loadstone, very neatly sewed up in scarlet cloth, 
was one day destined to experience the effects of this spirit of 
inquiry. For the secret force of attraction which it exercised 
not only on the little iron bar attached to it, but which was 
of such a kind that it could gain strength and could daily 

* The names of the sharp notes in German terminate in "is," and 
hence "f " and "g" sharp are called "fis" and "gis," 



96 TRUTH A1STD POETEY; FKOM MY OWN LIFE. 

bear a heavier weight this mysterious virtue had so excited 
my admiration, that for a long time I was pleased with merely 
staring at its operation. But at last I thought I might arrive 
at some nearer revelation by tearing away the external cover 
ing. This was done, but I became no wiser in consequence, 
as the naked iron taught me nothing further. This also I took 
off, and I held in my hand the mere stone, with which I never 
grew weary of making experiments of various kinds on filings 
and needles experiments from which my youthful mind drew 
no further advantage beyond that of a varied experience. I 
could not manage to reconstruct the whole arrangement ; the 
parts were scattered, and I lost the wondrous phenomenon 
at the same time with the apparatus. 

Nor was I more fortunate in putting together an electrical 
machine. A friend of the family, whose youth had fallen in 
the time when electricity occupied all minds, often told us how 
as a child he had desired to possess such a machine, had got 
together the principal requisites, and by the aid of an old 
spinning-wheel and some medicine bottles, had produced 
tolerable results. As he readily and frequently repeated the 
story, and imparted to us some general information on electri 
city, we children found the thing very plausible, and long 
tormented ourselves with an old spinning-wheel and some 
medicine bottles, without producing even the smallest result. 
We nevertheless adhered to our belief, and were much de 
lighted when at the time of the fair, among other rarities, 
magical and legerdemain tricks, an electrical machine per 
formed its marvels, which, like those of magnetism, were at 
that time already very numerous. 

The want of confidence in the public method of instruction 
was daily increasing. People looked about for private tutors, 
and because single families could not afford the expense, several 
of them united to attain their object. Yet the children seldom 
agreed, the young man had not sufficient authority, and after 
frequently repeated vexations, there were only angry partings. 
It is not surprising, therefore, that other arrangements were 
thought of which should be more permanent as well as more 
advantageous. 

The thought of establishing boarding-schools (Pensionen) 
had arisen from the necessity which every one felt for having 
the French language taught and communicated orally. My 



PFEIL S EOATJDING-SCHOOL. 97 

father had brought up a young person who had been his foot 
man, valet, secretary, and in short successively all in all. 
This man, whose name was Pfeil, spoke French well. After 
he had married, and his patrons had to think of a situation 
for him, they hit upon the plan of making him establish a 
boarding-school, which extended gradually into a small aca 
demy, in which everything necessary, and at last even Greek 
and Latin, were taught. The extensive connexions of Frank 
fort caused young French and English men to be brought to 
this establishment, that they might learn German and be other 
wise cultivated. Pfeil, who w r as a man in the prime of life, 
and of the most wonderful energy and activity, superintended 
the whole very laudably, and as he could never be employed 
enough, and was obliged to keep music-teachers for his 
scholars, he set about music on the occasion, and practised the 
harpsichord with such zeal that, without having previously 
touched a note, he very soon played with perfect readiness and 
spirit. He seemed to have adopted my father s maxim, that 
nothing can more cheer and excite young people, than when 
at mature years one declares one s self again a learner, and at 
an age when new accomplishments are acquired with diffi 
culty, one endeavours, nevertheless, by zeal and perseverance, 
to excel the younger, who are more favoured by nature. 

By this love of harpsichord-playing Pfeil was led to the 
instruments themselves, and while he hoped to obtain the 
best, came into connexion with Frederici of Gera, whose in 
struments were celebrated far and wide. He took a number 
of them on commission, and had now the joy of seeing not 
only one piano, but many, set up in his residence, and of 
practising and being heard upon them. 

The vivacity of this man brought a great rage for music 
into our house. My father remained on lasting good terms 
with him up to certain points of dispute. A large piano of 
Frederici was purchased also for us, which I, adhering to my 
harpsichord, hardly touched, but which so much increased 
the troubles of my sister, as, to do proper honour to the new 
instrument, she had to spend some time every day in prac 
tice ; while my father as overseer, and Pfeil as a model and 
encouraging friend, alternately took their positions at her 
side. 

A singular taste of my father caused much inconvenience to 

H 



98 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

us children. This was the cultivation of silk, of the advan 
tages of which, when it should be more widely extended, he 
had a high opinion. Some acquaintances at Hanau, where the 
breeding of the worms was carried on with great care, gave 
him the immediate impulse. At the proper season, the eggs 
were sent to him from that place, and as soon as the mulberry- 
trees showed sufficient leaves, they had to be stripped, and 
the scarcely visible creatures were most diligently tended. 
Tables and stands, with boards, were set up in a garret cham 
ber, to afford them more room and sustenance ; for they grew 
rapidly, and after their last change of skin were so voracious, 
that it was scarcely possible to get leaves enough to feed them; 
nay, they had to be fed day and night, as everything depends 
upon there being 110 deficiency of nourishment when the 
great and wondrous change is about to take place in them. 
If the weather was favourable, this business might indeed be 
regarded as a pleasant amusement ; but if the cold set in, so 
that the mulberry-trees suffered, it was exceedingly trouble 
some. Still more unpleasant was it when rain fell during the 
last epoch, for these creatures cannot at all endure moisture, 
and the wet leaves had to be carefully wiped and dried, which 
could not always be done quite perfectly ; and for this, or per 
haps some other reason also, various diseases came among the 
flock, by which the poor things were swept off in thousands. 
The corruption which ensued produced a smell really pesti 
lential, and because the dead and diseased had to be taken away 
and separated from the healthy, the business was indeed ex 
tremely wearisome and repulsive, and caused many an unhappy 
hour to us children. 

After we had one year passed the finest weeks of the spring 
and summer in tending the silk- worms, we were obliged to assist 
our father in another business, which, though simpler, was no 
less troublesome. The Roman views, which, bound by black 
rods at the top and bottom, had hung for many years on the walls 
of the old house, had become very yellow, through the light, 
dust, and smoke, and not a little unsightly through the flies. 
If such uncleanliness was not to be tolerated in the new house, 
yet, on the other hand, these pictures had gained in value to 
my father, in consequence of his longer absence from the 
places represented. For in the outset such copies only serve 
to refresh arid vivify the impressions shortly before received. 



LESSONS IN ENGLISH. 99 

They seem trifling in comparison, and at the best only a 
melancholy substitute. But as the remembrance of the ori 
ginal forms fades more and more, the copies imperceptibly 
assume their place, they become as dear to us as those once 
were, and what we at first contemned, now gains esteem and 
affection. Thus it is with all copies, and particularly with 
portraits. No one is easily satisfied with the counterfeit of an 
object still present, but how we value every silhouette of one 
who is absent or departed. 

In short, with this feeling of his former extravagance, nry 
father wished that these engravings might be restored as much 
as possible. It was well known that this could be done by 
bleaching ; and the operation, always critical with large plates, 
was undertaken under rather unfavourable circumstances. 
For the large boards on which the smoked engravings were 
moistened and exposed to the sun, stood in the gutters 
before the garret windows, leaning against the roof, and 
were therefore liable to many accidents. The chief point 
was, that the paper should never thoroughly dry, but must 
be kept constantly moist. This was the duty of my sister 
and myself ; and the idleness, which would have been other 
wise so desirable, was excessively annoying, on account of 
the tedium and impatience, and the watchfulness which 
allowed of no distraction. The end, however, was attained, 
and the bookbinder who fixed each sheet upon thick paper, 
did his best to match and repair the margins, which had 
been here and there torn by our inadvertence. All the sheets 
together were bound in a volume, and for this time preserved. 

That we children might not be wanting in every variety 
of life and learning, a teacher of the English language must 
announce himself just at this time, who pledged himself to 
teach English to anybody not entirely raw in languages, 
within four weeks ; and to advance him to such a degree that, 
with some diligence, he could help himself further. His 
price was moderate, and he was indifferent as to the number 
of scholars at one lesson. My father instantly determined 
to make the attempt, and took lessons, in connexion with 
my sister and myself, from this expeditious master. The 
hours were faithfully kept ; there was no want of repeating 
our lessons ; other exercises were neglected rather than this, 
during the four weeks ; and the teacher parted from us, and 

H2 



100 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY O~WN LIFE. 

we from him, with satisfaction. As he remained longer in. 
the town, and found many employers, he came from time to 
time to look after us and to help us, grateful that we had 
been among the first who placed confidence in him, and proud 
to be able to cite us as examples to the others. 

My father, in consequence of this, entertained a new anxiety 
that English might neatly stand in the series of my other 
studies in languages. Now, I will confess that it became 
more and more burdensome for me to take my occasions 
for study now from this grammar or collection of examples, 
now from that; now from one author, now from another, 
and thus to divert my interest in a subject every hour. It 
occurred to me, therefore, that I might despatch all at once, and 
I invented a romance of six or seven brothers and sisters ,, 
who, separated from each other and scattered over the world, 
should communicate with each other alternately as to their 
conditions and feelings. The eldest brother gives an account 
in good German of all the manifold objects and incidents 
of his journey. The sister, in a ladylike style, with short 
sentences and nothing but stops, much as Siegivart was after- 
wards written, answers now him, now the other brothers, 
partly about domestic matters, and partly about affairs of the 
heart. One brother studies theology, and writes a very formal 
Latin, to which he often adds a Greek postscript. To another 
brother, holding the place of mercantile clerk at Hamburgh, 
the English correspondence naturally falls, while a still younger 
one at Marseilles has the French. For the Italian was found 
a musician, on his first trip into the world ; while the youngest 
of all, a sort of pert nestling, had applied himself to Jew- 
German, the other languages having been cut off from him, 
and by means of his frightful cyphers brought the rest of them 
into despair, and my parents into a hearty laugh at the good 
notion. 

I sought for matter to fill up this singular form by studying 
the geography of the countries in which my creations resided, 
and by inventing for those dry localities all sorts of human 
incidents, which had some affinity with the characters and 
employments of my heroes. Thus my exercise-books became 
much more voluminous, my father was better satisfied, and I 
was much sooner made aware of the acquirements and the 
sort of readiness in which I was wanting. 



BECTOB ALBHECHT. 101 

Now, as such things once begun have no end and no limits, 
so it happened in the present case ; for, while I strove to 
attain the odd Jew-German, and to write it as well as I could 
read it, I soon discovered that I ought to know Hebrew, 
from which alone the modern corrupted dialect could be de 
rived and handled with any certainty. I consequently ex 
plained the necessity of my learning Hebrew to my father, 
and earnestly besought his consent, for I had a still higher 
object. Everywhere I heard it said that to understand the 
Old as well as the New Testament, the original languages 
were requisite. The latter I could read quite easily, because, 
that there might be no want of exercise even on Sundays, 
the so-called Epistles and Gospels had, after church, to be 
recited, translated, and in some measure explained. I now 
designed doing the same thing with the Old Testament, the 
peculiarities of which had always especially interested me. 

My father, who did not like to do anything by halves, 
determined to request the rector of our Gymnasium, one Dr. 
ALBHECHT, to give me private lessons weekly, until I should 
have acquired what was most essential in so simple a language, 
for he hoped that if it would not be despatched as soon as 
English was learned, it could at least be managed in double 
the time. 

Rector Albrecht was one of the most original figures in 
the world, short, broad, but not fat, ill-shaped without being 
deformed, in short, an ^Esop in gown and wig. His more 
than seventy-years-old face was completely twisted into a 
sarcastic smile, while his eyes always remained large, and, 
though red, were always brilliant and intelligent. He lived 
in the old cloister of the Barefoot Friars, the seat of the 
Gymnasium. Even as a child, I had often visited him in 
company with my parents, and had, with a kind of trembling 
delight, glided through the long dark passages, the chapels 
transformed into reception-rooms, the place broken up and 
full of stairs and corners. Without annoying me, he ques 
tioned me familiarly whenever we met, and praised and 
encouraged me. One day, on the changing of the pupil s 
places after a public examination, he saw me standing as a 
mere spectator, not far from his chair, while he distributed 
the silver prcemia virtutis et diligentice. I was probably gaz 
ing very eagerly upon the little bag out of which he drew 



102 THUTH AND POETRY; FHOM MY OWN LIFE. 

the medals ; lie nodded to me, descended a step, and handed 
me one of the silver pieces. My joy was great, although 
others thought that this gift bestowed upon a boy not belong 
ing to the school was out of all order. But for this the good 
old man cared but little, having always played the eccentric, 
and that in a striking manner. He had a very good repu 
tation as a schoolmaster, and understood his business, although 
age no more allowed him to practise it thoroughly. But 
almost more than by his own infirmities was he hindered by 
greater circumstances, and, as I already knew, he was satis 
fied neither with the consistory, the inspectors, the clergy, 
nor the teachers. To his natural temperament, which inclined 
to satire, and the watching for faults and defects, he allowed 
free play, both in his programs and his public speeches, and 
as Lucian was almost the only writer whom he read and 
esteemed, he spiced all that he said and wrote with biting 
ingredients. 

Fortunately for those with whom he was dissatisfied, he 
never went directly to work, but only jeered at the defects 
which he wanted to reprove, with hints, allusions, classic 
passages, and Scripture texts. His delivery, moreover he 
always read his discourses was unpleasant, unintelligible, 
and, above all, was often interrupted by a cough, but more 
frequently by a hollow paunch-convulsing laugh, with which 
he was wont to announce and accompany the biting pas 
sages. This singular man I found to be mild and obliging 
when I began to take lessons from him. I now went to him 
daily at six o clock in the evening, and always experienced 
a secret pleasure when the outer door closed behind me, and 
I had to thread the long dark cloister-passage. We sat in 
his library at a table covered with oil-cloth, a much-read 
Lucian never quitting his side. 

In spite of all my willingness, I did not get at the matter 
v/ithout difficulty, for my teacher could not suppress certain 
sarcastic remarks as to the real truth about Hebrew. I con 
cealed from him my designs upon Jew-German, and spoke of a 
better understanding of the original text. He smiled at this, 
and said I should be satisfied if I only learned to read. This 
vexed me in secret, and I concentrated all my attention when 
we came to the letters. I found an alphabet something like 
the Greek, of which the forms were easy, and the names, for 



HEBREW STUDIES. 103 

the most part, not strange to me. All this I had soon com 
prehended and retained, and supposed we should now go to 
reading. That this was done from right to left I was well 
aware. But now, all at once appeared a new army of little 
characters and signs, of points and strokes of all sorts, which 
were in fact to represent vowels. At this I wondered the 
more, as there were manifestly vowels in the larger alphabet, 
and the others only appeared to be hidden under strange 
appellations. It w r as also taught, that the Jewish nation, so 
long as it flourished, actually were satisfied with the first 
signs, and knew no other way to write and read. Most wil 
lingly then would 1 have gone on along this ancient, and, as 
it seemed to me, easier path ; but my old man declared rather 
sternly, that we must go by the grammar as it had been 
approved and composed. Reading without these points and 
strokes, he said, was a very hard undertaking, and could be 
accomplished only by the learned, and those who were well 
practised. I must therefore make up my mind to learn these 
little characters ; but the matter became to me more and more 
confused. Now, it seemed, some of the first and larger pri 
mitive letters had no value in their places, in order that their 
little after-born kindred might not stand there in vain. Now 
they indicated a gentle breathing, now a guttural more or 
less rough, arid now served as mere supports. But, finally, 
when one fancied that one had well noted everything, some 
of these personages, both great and small, were rendered 
inoperative, so that the eyes always had very much, and the 
lips very little to do. 

As that of which I already knew the contents had now to 
be stuttered in a strange gibberish, in which a certain snuffle 
and gargle were not a little commended as something unat 
tainable, I in a certain degree deviated from the matter, and 
diverted myself in a childish way with the singular names of 
these accumulated signs. There were " emperors," "kings," 
and " dukes," * which, as accents, governing here and there, 
gave me not a little entertainment. But even these shallow 
jests soon lost their charm. Nevertheless, I was indemnified, 
inasmuch as by reading, translating, repeating, and commit 
ting to memory, the substance of the book came out more 

* These are the technical names for classes of accents in the Hebrew 
gram mar . Trans* 



104 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

vividly, and it was this, properly, about which I desired to 
be enlightened. Even before this time the contradiction be 
tween tradition and the actual and possible had appeared to 
me very striking, and I had often put my private tutors to 
a non-plus with the sun which stood still on Gibeon, and the 
moon in the vale of Ajalon, to say nothing of other impro 
babilities and incongruities. Everything of this kind was 
now awakened, while, in order to master the Hebrew, I occu 
pied myself exclusively with the Old Testament, and studied 
it, though no longer in Luther s translation, but in the literal 
version of Sebastian Schmid, printed under the text which 
my father had procured for me. Here, unfortunately, our 
lessons began to be defective, so far as practice in the lan 
guage was concerned. Reading, interpreting, grammar, tran 
scribing, and the repetition of words, seldom lasted a full half 
hour ; for I immediately began to aim at the sense of the 
matter, and, though we were still engaged in the first book 
of Moses, to utter several things suggested to me by the later 
books. At first the good old man tried to restrain me from 
such digressions, but at last they seemed to entertain him 
also. It was impossible for him to suppress his characteristic 
cough and chuckle, and although he carefully avoided giving 
me any information that might have compromised himself, my 
importunity was not relaxed ; nay, as I cared more to set forth 
my doubts than to learn their solution, I grew constantly more 
vivacious and bold, seeming justified by his deportment. Yet 
I could get nothing out of him, except that ever and anon he 
would exclaim, with his peculiar shaking laugh, " Ah ! mad 
fellow ! ah ! mad boy ! 

Still, my childish vivacity, which scrutinized the Bible on 
all sides, may have seemed to him tolerably serious and worthy 
of some assistance. He therefore referred me, after a time, to 
the large English Biblical work which stood in his library, 
and in which the interpretation of difficult and doubtful pas 
sages was attempted in an intelligent and judicious manner. 
By the great labours of German divines the translation had 
obtained advantages over the original. The different opinions 
were cited, and at last a kind of reconciliation was attempted, 
so that the dignity of the book, the ground of religion, and the 
human understanding might in some degree co-exist. Now, 
as often as towards the end of the lesson I came out with my 



THE OLD TESTAMENT. 105 

usual questions and doubts, so often did he point to the repo 
sitory. I took the volume, he let me read, turned over his 
Lucian, and when I made any remarks on the book, his ordi 
nary laugh was the only answer to my sagacity. In the long 
summer days he let me sit as long as I could read, many times 
alone ; after a time he suffered me to take one volume after 
another home with me. 

A man may turn whither he pleases, and undertake anything 
whatsoever, but he will always return to the path which 
nature has once prescribed for him. Thus it happened also with 
me in the present case. My trouble about the language, about 
the contents of the Sacred Scriptures themselves, ended at last 
in producing in my imagination a livelier picture of that beau 
tiful and famous land, its environs and its vicinities, as well 
as of the people and events by which that little spot of earth 
was made glorious for thousands of years. 

This small space was to see the origin and growth of the 
human race ; thence we were to derive our first and only 
accounts of primitive history ; and such a locality was to lie 
before our imagination, no less simple and comprehensible 
than varied and adapted to the most wonderful migrations and 
settlements. Here, between four designated rivers, a small 
delightful spot was separated from the whole habitable earth, 
for youthful man. Here he was to unfold his first capacities, 
and here at the same time was the lot to befal him, which was 
appointed for all his posterity, namely, that of losing peace by 
striving after knowledge. Paradise was trifled away; men 
increased and grew worse ; and the Elohim, not yet accus 
tomed to the wickedness of the new race, became impatient 
and utterly destroyed it. Only a few were saved from the uni 
versal deluge ; and scarcely had this dreadful flood ceased, 
than the well known ancestral soil lay once more before the 
grateful eyes of the preserved. 

Two rivers out of four, the Euphrates and Tigris, still flowed 
in their beds. The name of the first remained ; the other 
seemed to be pointed out by its course. Minuter traces of 
Paradise were not to be looked for after so great a revolution. 
The renewed race of man went forth from hence a second time ; 
it found occasion to sustain and employ itself in all sorts of 
ways, but chiefly to gather around it large herds of tame ani 
mals, and to wander with them in every direction. 



106 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

This mode of life, as well as the increase of the families, 
soon compelled the people to disperse. They could not at once 
resolve to let their relatives and friends go for ever ; they hit 
upon the thought of building a lofty tower which should show 
them the way back from the far distance. But this attempt, 
like their first endeavour, miscarried. They could not be at 
the same time happy and wise, numerous and united. The 
Elohim confounded their minds the building remained un 
finished the men were dispersed the world was peopled, 
but cundered. 

But our regards, our interests, are still fastened to these 
regions. At last the founder of a race again goes forth from 
hence, and is so fortunate as to stamp a distinct character 
upon his descendants, and by that means to unite them for all 
time to come into a great nation, inseparable through all 
changes of place or destiny. 

From the Euphrates, Abraham, not without divine guid 
ance, wanders towards the west. The desert opposes no 
invincible barrier to his march. He attains the Jordan, passes 
over its waters, and spreads himself over the fair southern 
regions of Palestine. This land was already occupied, and 
tolerably inhabited. Mountains, not extremely high, but 
rocky and barren, were severed by many watered vales favour 
able to cultivation. Towns, villages, and solitary settlements 
lay scattered over the plain and on the slopes of the great 
valley, the waters of which are collected in Jordan. Thus 
inhabited, thus tilled was , the land ; but the world was still 
large enough, and the men were not so circumspect, necessi 
tous, and active, as to usurp at once the whole adjacent 
country. Between their possessions were extended large 
spaces, in which grazing herds could freely move in every direc 
tion. In one of these spaces Abraham resides ; his brother 
Lot is near him ; but they cannot long remain in such places. 
The very condition of a land, the population of which is now 
increasing, now decreasing, and the productions of which are 
never kept in equilibrium with the wants, produces unex 
pectedly a famine, and the stranger suffers alike with the 
native, whose own support he has rendered difficult by his 
accidental presence. The two Chaldean brothers move onward 
to Egypt, and thus is traced out for us the theatre on which, 
for some thousands of years, the most important events of the 



THE OLD TESTAMENT. 107 

world were to be enacted. From the Tigris to the Euphrates, 
from the Euphrates to the Nile, we see the earth peopled ; and 
this space also is traversed by a well-known, heaven-beloved 
man, who has already become worthy to us, moving to and 
fro with his goods and cattle, and, in a short time, abundantly 
increasing them. The brothers return; but, taught by the 
distress they have endured, they determine to part. Both, 
indeed, tarry in Southern Canaan; but while Abraham re 
mains at Hebron, near the wood of Harare, Lot departs for 
the valley of Siddim, which, if our imagination is bold 
enough to give Jordan a subterranean outlet, so that in place 
of the present Dead Sea we should have dry ground, can 
and must appear like a second Paradise ; a conjecture all the 
more probable, because the residents about there, notorious 
for effeminacy and wickedness, lead us to infer that they led 
an easy and luxurious life. Lot lives among them, but apart. 

But Hebron and the wood of Mamre appear to us as the 
important place where the Lord speaks with Abraham, and 
promises him all the land as far as his eye can reach in four 
directions. From these quiet districts, from these shepherd 
tribes, who can associate with celestials, entertain them as 
guests, and hold many conversations with them, we are com 
pelled to turn our glance once more towards the East, and to 
think of the condition of the surrounding world, which on the 
whole, perhaps, may have been like that of Canaan. 

Families hold together : they unite, and the mode of life of 
the tribes is determined by the locality which they have appro 
priated or appropriate. On the mountains which send down 
their waters to the Tigris, we find warlike populations, who 
even thus early foreshadow those world- conquerors and world- 
rulers and in a campaign, prodigious for those times, give 
us a prelude of future achievements. Chedor Laomer, king 
of Elam, has already a mighty influence over his allies. He 
reigns a long while ; for twelve years before Abraham s arrival 
in Canaan, he had made all the people tributary to him as far 
as the Jordan. They revolted at last, and the allies equipped 
for war. We find them unawares upon a route by which pro 
bably Abraham also reached Canaan. The people on the left 
and lower side of the Jordan were subdued. Chedor Laomer 
directs his march southwards towards the people of the Desert, 
then wending north, he smites the Amalekites, and when he 



108 TRUTH AND POETKY: FEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

has also overcome the Amorites, lie reaches Canaan, falls upon 
the kings of the valley of Siddim, smites and scatters them, 
and marches with great spoil up the Jordan, in order to extend 
his conquests as far as Lebanon. 

Among the captives, despoiled and dragged along with their 
property, is Lot, who shares the fate of the country in which 
he lives a guest. Abraham learns this, and here at once we 
behold the patriarch a warrior and hero. He gathers together 
his servants, divides them into troops, attacks and falls upon 
the luggage of booty, confuses the victors, who could not sus 
pect another enemy in the rear, and brings back his brother 
and his goods, with a great deal more belonging to the con 
quered kings. Abraham, by means of this brief contest, 
acquires, as it were, the whole laud. To the inhabitants he 
appears as a protector, saviour, and, by his disinterestedness, 
a king. Gratefully the kings of the valley receive him : 
Melchisedek, the king and priest, with blessings. 

Now the prophecies of an endless posterity are renewed, 
nay, they take a wider and wider scope. From the waters of 
the Euphrates to the river of Egypt all the lands are promised 
him ; but yet there seems a difficulty with respect to his next 
heirs. He is eighty years of age, and has no son. Sarai, less 
trusting in the heavenly powers than he, becomes impatient ; 
she desires, after the oriental fashion, to have a descendant 
by means of her maid. But scarcely is Hagar given up to the 
master of the house, scarcely is there hope of a son, than dis 
sensions arise. The wife treats her own dependent ill enough, 
and Hagar flies to seek a happier position among other tribes. 
She returns, not without a higher intimation, and Ishmael is 
born. 

Abraham is now ninety-nine years old, and the promises of 
a numerous posterity are constantly repeated, so that in the 
end the pair regard them as ridiculous. And yet Sarai be 
comes at last pregnant and brings forth a son, to whom the 
name of Isaac is given. 

History, for the most part, rests upon the legitimate propa 
gation of the human race. The most important events of the 
world require to be traced to the secrets of families : and thus 
the marriages of the patriarchs give occasion for peculiar con 
siderations. It is as if the Divinity, who loves to guide the 
destiny of mankind, wished to prefigure here connubial events 



NATURAL AND REVEALED RELIGION. 109 

of every kind. Abraham, so long united by childless marriage 
to a beautiful woman whom many coveted, finds himself, in 
his hundredth year, the husband of two women, the father of 
two sons ; and at this moment his domestic peace is broken. 
Two women, and two sons by different mothers, cannot pos 
sibly agree. The party less favoured by law, usage, and 
opinion, must yield. Abraham must sacrifice his attachment 
to Hagar and Ishmael. Both are dismissed, and Hagar is 
compelled now, against her will, to go upon a road which 
she once took in voluntary flight, at first, it seems, to the 
destruction of herself and child ; but the angel of the Lord, 
who had before sent her back, now rescues her again, that 
Ishmael also may become a great people, and that the most 
improbable of all promises may be fulfilled beyond its limits. 

Two parents in advanced years, and one son of their old 
age here, at last, one might expect domestic quiet and 
earthly happiness. By no means. Heaven is yet preparing 
the heaviest trial for the patriarch. But of this we cannot 
speak without premising several considerations. 

If a natural universal religion was to arise, and a special 
revealed one to be developed from it, the countries in which 
our imagination has hitherto lingered, the mode of life, the 
race of men, were the fittest for the purpose. At least, we do 
not find in the whole world anything equally favourable and 
encouraging. Even to natural religion, if we assume that it 
arose earlier in the human mind, there pertains much of deli 
cacy of sentiment ; for it rests upon the conviction of an 
universal providence, which conducts the order of the world 
as a whole. A particular religion, revealed by Heaven to this 
or that people, carries with it the belief in a special provi 
dence which the Divine Being vouchsafes to certain favoured 
men, families, races, and people. This faith seems to develope 
itself with difficulty from man s inward nature. It requires 
tradition, usage, and the warrant of a primitive time. 

Beautiful is it, therefore, that the Israelitish tradition repre 
sents the very first men who confide in this particular provi 
dence as heroes of faith, following all the commands of that 
high Being on whom they acknowledge themselves dependent, 
just as blindly as, undisturbed by doubts, they are unwearied 
in awaiting the later fulfilments of his promises. 

As a particular revealed religion rests upon the idea that 



110 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

one man can be more favoured by Heaven than another, so it 
also arises pre-eminently from the separation of classes. The 
first men appeared closely allied ; but their employments soon 
divided them. The hunter was the freest of all ; from him 
was developed the warrior and the ruler. Those who tilled 
the field bound themselves to the soil, erected dwellings and 
barns to preserve what they had gained, and could estimate 
themselves pretty highly, because their condition promised 
durability and security. The herdsman in his position seemed 
to have acquired the most unbounded condition and unlimited 
property. The increase of herds proceeded without end, and 
the space which was to support them widened itself on all 
sides. These three classes seemed from the very first to have 
regarded each other with dislike and contempt ; and as the 
herdsman was an abomination to the townsman, so did he in 
turn separate from the other. The hunters vanish from our 
sight among the hills, and re-appear only as conquerors. 

The patriarchs belonged to the shepherd class. Their 
manner of life upon the ocean of deserts and pastures, gave 
breadth and freedom to their minds ; the vault of heaven, under 
which they dwelt, with all its nightly stars, elevated their 
feelings ; and they, more than the active, skilful huntsman, or 
the secure, careful, householding husbandman, had need of the 
immovable faith that a God walked beside them, visited them, 
cared for them, guided and saved them. 

We are compelled to make another reflection in passing to 
the rest of the history. Humane, beautiful, and cheering as 
the religion of the patriarchs appears, yet traits of savageness 
and cruelty run through it, out of which man may emerge, or 
into which he may again be sunk. 

That hatred should seek to appease itself by the blood, by 
the death of the conquered enemy, is natural ; that men con 
cluded a peace upon the battle-field among the ranks of the 
slain, may easily be conceived ; that they should in like 
manner think to give validity to a contract by slain animals, 
follows from the preceding. The notion also that slain crea 
tures could attract, propitiate, and gain over the gods, whom 
they always looked upon as partisans, either opponents or 
allies, is likewise not at all surprising. But if we confine our 
attention to the sacrifices, and consider the way in which they 
were offered in that primitive time, we find a singular, and, 



THE OLD TESTAMENT. Ill 

to our notions, altogether repugnant custom, probably derived 
from the usages of war, viz., that the sacrificed animals of 
every kind, and whatever number was devoted, had to be 
hewn in two halves, and laid out on two sides, so that in the 
space between them were those who wished to make a cove 
nant with the Deity. 

Another dreadful feature wonderfully and portentously per 
vades that fair world, namely, that everything consecrated or 
vowed must die. This also was probably an usage of war trans 
ferred to peace. The inhabitants of a city which forcibly 
defends itself are threatened with such a vow ; it is taken by 
storm or otherwise. Nothing is left alive ; men never, and 
often women, children, and even cattle, share a similar fate. 
Such sacrifices are rashly and superstitiously and with more or 
less distinctness promised to the gods, and those whom the votary 
would willingly spare, even his nearest of kin, his own children, 
may thus bleed, the expiatory victims of such a delusion. 

In the mild and truly patriarchal character of Abraham, 
such a savage kind of worship could not arise ; but the God 
head,* which often, to tempt us, seems to put forth those 
qualities which man is inclined to assign to it, imposes a 
monstrous task upon him. He must offer up his son as a 
pledge of the new covenant, and, if he follows the usage, 
must not only kill and burn him, but cut him in two, and await 
between the smoking entrails a new promise from the be 
nignant Deity. Abraham blindly, and without lingering, pre 
pares to execute the command ; to Heaven the will is sufficient. 
Abraham s trials are now at an end, for they could not be 
carried further. But Sarai dies, and this gives Abraham an 
opportunity for taking typical possession of the land of Canaan. 
He requires a grave, and this is the first time he looks out for 
a possession in this earth, He had before this probably sought 
out a two-fold cave by the grove of Mamre. This he purchases 
with the adjacent field, and the legal form which he observes 
on the occasion, shows how important this possession is to 
him. Indeed it was more so, perhaps, than he himself sup 
posed ; for there he, his sons and his grandsons, were to rest, 
and by this means, the nearest title to the whole land, as well 

* It should be observed that in this Biblical narrative, when we have 
used the expressions " Deity," " Godhead," or " Divinity," Gothe gene 
rally has " die Gotter," or "the Gods," 



112 TRUTH AXD POETHY; PBOM MY OWN LIFE. 

as the everlasting desire of his posterity to gather themselves 
there, was most properly grounded. 

From this time forth the manifold incidents of the family 
life become varied. Abraham still keeps strictly apart from 
the inhabitants, and though Ishmael, the son of an Egyptian 
woman, has married a daughter of that land, Isaac is obliged 
to wed a kinswoman of equal birth with himself. 

Abraham despatches his servant to Mesopotamia, to the 
relatives whom he had left behind there. The prudent Eleazer 
arrives unknown, and, in order to take home the right bride, 
tries the readiness to serve of the girls at the well. He asks to 
drink himself, and Rebecca, unasked, waters his camels also. 
He gives her presents, he demands her in marriage, and his 
suit is not rejected. He conducts her to the home of his lord, 
and she is wedded to Isaac. In this case, too, issue has to 
be long expected. Rebecca is not blessed until after some 
years of probation, and the same discord which in Abraham s 
double marriage arose through two mothers, here proceeds 
from one. Two boys of opposite characters wrestle already in 
their mother s womb. They come to light, the elder lively and 
vigorous, the younger gentle and prudent. The former be 
comes the father s, the latter the mother s favourite. The 
strife for precedence, which begins even at birth, is ever going 
on. Esau is quiet and indifferent as to the birthright which fate 
has given him ; Jacob never forgets that his brother forced 
him back. Watching every opportunity of gaining the desir 
able privilege, he buys the birthright of his brother, and 
defrauds him of their father s blessing. Esau is indignant, 
and vows his brother s death ; Jacob flees to seek his fortune 
in the land of his forefathers. 

Now, for the first time, in so noble a family appears a mem 
ber who has no scruple in attaining by prudence and cunning 
the advantages which nature and circumstances have denied 
him. It has often enough been remarked and expressed, that 
the Sacred Scriptures by no means intend to set up any of the 
patriarchs and other divinely-favoured men as models of virtue. 
They, too, are persons of the most different characters, with 
many defects and failings. But there is one leading trait, in, 
which none of these men after God s own heart can be want 
ing that is, an immovable faith that God has special care of 
them and their families. 



THE OLD TESTAMENT. 113 

General, natural religion, properly speaking, requires no 
faith ; for the persuasion that a great producing, regulating, 
and conducting Being conceals himself, as it were, behind 
Nature, to make himself comprehensible to us such a con 
viction forces itself upon every one. Nay, if we for a moment 
let drop this thread, which conducts us through life, it may be 
immediately and everywhere resumed. But it is different 
with a special religion, which announces to us that this Great 
Being distinctly and pre-eminently interests himself for one 
individual, one family, one people, one country. This religion 
is founded on faith, which must be immovable if it would not 
be instantly destroyed. Every doubt of such a religion is 
fatal to it. One may return to conviction, but not to faith. 
Hence the endless probation, the delay in the fulfilment of so 
often repeated promises, by which the capacity for faith in 
those ancestors is set in the clearest light. 

It is in this faith also that Jacob begins his expedition, and 
if by his craft and deceit he has not gained our affections, he 
wins them by his lasting and inviolable love for Rachel, whom 
he himself woos on the instant, as Eleazar had courted Re 
becca for his father. In him the promise of a countless people 
was first to be fully unfolded ; he was to see many sons around 
him, but through them and their mothers was to endure mani 
fold sorrows of heart* 

Seven years he serves for his beloved, without impatience 
and without wavering. His father-in-law, crafty like himself, 
and disposed, like him, to consider legitimate this means to an 
end, deceives him, and so repays him for what he has done to 
his brother. Jacob finds in his arms a wife whom he does not 
love. Laban, indeed, endeavours to appease him, by giving 
him his beloved also after a short time, and this but on the con 
dition of seven years of further service. Vexation arises out of 
vexation. The wife he does not love is fruitful, the beloved 
one bears no children. The latter, like Sarai, desires to become 
a mother through her handmaiden ; the former grudges her 
even this advantage. She also presents her husband with a 
maid ; but the good patriarch is now the most troubled man 
in the world he has four women, children by three, and none 
from her he loves. Finally she also is favoured, and Joseph 
comes into the world, the late Iruit of the most passionate 
attachment. Jacob s fourteen years of service are over, but 

X 



114 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

Laban is unwilling to part with him, his chief and most trusty 
servant. They enter into a new compact, and portion the flocks 
between them. Laban retains the white ones as most numerous, 
Jacob has to put up wiith the spotted ones, as the mere refuse. 
But he is able here too to secure his own advantage ; and as 
by a paltry mess (of pottage) he had procured the birthright, 
and by a disguise his father s blessing, he manages by art and 
sympathy to appropriate to himself the best and largest part 
of the herds ; and on this side also he becomes the truly 
worthy progenitor of the people of Israel, and a model for his 
descendants. Laban and his household remark the result, if 
not the stratagem. Vexation ensues ; Jacob flees with his 
family and goods, and partly by fortune, partly by cunning, 
escapes the pursuit of Laban. Rachel is now about to present 
him another son, but dies in the travail : Benjamin, the child 
of sorrow, survives her ; but the aged father is to experience 
a still greater sorrow from the apparent loss of his son Joseph. 

Perhaps some one may ask why I have so circumstantially 
narrated histories so universally known and so often repeated 
and explained. Let the inquirer be satisfied with the answer, 
that I could in no other way exhibit, how with my distracted life 
and desultory education, I concentrated my mind and feelings 
in quiet action on one point ; that I was able in no other way 
to depict the peace that prevailed about me, even when all 
without was so wild and strange. If an ever busy imagina 
tion, of which that tale may bear witness, led me hither and 
thither, if the medley of fable and history, mythology and 
religion, threatened to bewilder me, I readily fled to those 
oriental regions, plunged into the first books of Moses, and 
there, amid the scattered shepherd- tribes, found myself at once 
in the greatest solitude and the greatest society. 

These family scenes, before they were to lose themselves in 
a history of the Jewish nation, show us now, in conclusion, a 
form by which the hopes and fancies of the young in particular 
are agreeably excited : Joseph, the child of the most passionate 
wedded love. He seems to us tranquil and clear, and predicts 
to himself the advantages which are to elevate him above his 
family. Cast into misfortune by his brothers, he remains 
steadfast and upright in slavery, resists the most dangerous 
temptations, rescues himself by prophecy, and is elevated 



HISTORY OP JOSEPH. 115 

according to his deserts to high honours. He shows himself 
first serviceable and useful to a great kingdom, then to his own 
kindred. He is like his ancestor Abraham in repose and 
greatness, his grandfather Isaac in silence and devotedness. 
The talent for traffic inherited from his father he exercises on 
a large scale. It is no longer flocks which are gained for him 
self from a father-in-law, but people, with all their possessions, 
which he knows how to purchase for a king. Extremely grace 
ful is this natural story, only it appears too short, and one 
feels called upon to paint it in detail. 

Such a filling-up of biblical characters and events given only 
in outline, was no longer strange to the Germans. The person 
ages of both the Old and New Testaments had received through 
Klopstock a tender and affectionate nature, highly pleasing to 
the Boy as well as to many of his contemporaries. Of Bodmer s 
efforts in this line little or nothing came to him ; but Daniel in 
the Lion s Den, by Moser, made a great impression on the young 
heart. In that work a right-minded man of business and 
courtier arrives at high honours through manifold tribula 
tions, and the piety for which they threatened to destroy him 
became early and late his sword and buckler. It had long 
seemed to me desirable to work out the history of Joseph, but 
I could not get on with the form, particularly as I was con 
versant with no kind of versification which would have been 
adapted to such a work. But now I found a treatment of it 
in prose very suitable, and I applied all my strength to its 
execution. I now endeavoured to discriminate and paint the 
characters, and by the interpolation of incidents and episodes, 
to make the old simple history a new and independent work. 
I did not consider, what, indeed, youth cannot consider, that 
subject-matter was necessary to such a design, and that this 
could only arise by the perceptions of experience. Suffice 
it to say, that I represented to myself all the incidents down to 
the minutest details, and narrated them accurately to myself 
in their succession. 

What greatly lightened this labour was a circumstance 
which threatened to render this work, and my authorship in 
general, exceedingly voluminous. A young man of various 
capacities, but who had become imbecile from over exertion 
and conceit, resided as a ward in my father s house, lived 
quietly with the family, and if allowed to go on in his usual 

i 2 



116 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

way, was contented and agreeable. He had with great care 
written out notes of his academical course, and had acquired 
a rapid legible hand. He liked to employ himself in writing 
better than in anything else, and was pleased when some 
thing was given him to copy ; but still more when he was 
dictated to, because he then felt carried back to his happy 
academical years. To my father, who was not expeditious 
in writing, and whose German letters were small and tremu 
lous, nothing could be more desirable, and he was conse 
quently accustomed, in the conduct of his own and other 
business, to dictate for some hours a day to this young 
man. I found it no less convenient, during the intervals, to , 
see all that passed through my head fixed upon paper by the 
hand of another, and my natural gift of feeling and imitation 
grew with the facility of catching up and preserving. 

As yet I had not undertaken any work so large as that 
biblical prose-epic. The times were tolerably quiet, and no 
thing recalled my imagination from Palestine and Egypt. 
Thus my manuscripts swelled more and more every day, as 
the poem, which I recited to myself, as it were, in the air, 
stretched along the paper ; and only a few pages from time 
to time needed to be rewritten. 

When the work was done for to my own astonishment it 
really came to an end I reflected that from former years 

f *// 

many poems were extant, which did not even now appear to 
me utterly despicable, and which, if written together in the 
same size with JOSEPH, would make a very neat quarto, to 
which the title " Miscellaneous Poems might be given. I 
was pleased with this, as it gave me an opportunity of quietly 
imitating well-known and celebrated authors. I had com 
posed a good number of so-called Anacreontic poems, which, 
on account of the convenience of the metre and the easiness 
of the subject, flowed forth readily enough. But these I 
could not well take, as they were not in rhyme, and my desire 
before all things was to show my father something that would 
please him. So much the more, therefore, did the spiritual 
odes seem suitable, which I had very zealously attempted in 
imitation of the Last Judgment of Elias Schlegel. One of 
these, written to celebrate the descent of Christ into hell, 
received much applause from my parents and friends, and had 
the good fortune to please myself for some years afterwards. 



PLITT S SERMONS. 117 

The so-called texts of the Sunday church-music, which were 
always to be had printed, I studied with diligence. They 
were, indeed, very weak, and I could well believe that my 
verses, of which I had composed many in the prescribed 
manner, were equally worthy of being set to music, and per 
formed for the edification of the congregation. These and 
many like them I had for more than a year before copied 
with my own hand, because through this private exercise I 
was released from the copies of the writing-master. Now, 
all were corrected and put in order, and no great persuasion 
was needed to have them neatly copied by the young man who 
was so fond of writing. I hastened with them to the book- 
binder, and when very soon after I handed the nice-looking 
volume to my father, he encouraged me with peculiar satisfac 
tion to furnish a similar quarto every year ; which he did with 
the greater conviction, as I had produced the whole in my 
spare moments alone. 

Another circumstance increased my tendency to these theo 
logical, or rather biblical studies. The senior of the ministry, 
JOHN PHILIP FUESENITJS, a mild man, of handsome, agree 
able appearance, who was respected by his congregation and 
the whole city as an exemplary pastor and good preacher, 
but who, because he stood forth against the Herrnhuters, was 
not in the best odour with the peculiarly pious ; while, on the 
other hand, he had made himself famous, and almost sacred, 
with the multitude, by the conversion of a free-thinking Gene 
ral who had been mortally wounded this man died, and his 
successor, Plitt, a tall, handsome, dignified man, who brought 
from his Chair (he had been a Professor in Marburg) the gift 
of teaching rather than of edifying, immediately announced a 
sort of religious course, to which his sermons were to be de 
voted in a certain methodical connexion. I had already, as I 
was compelled to go to church, remarked the distribution of 
the subject, and could now and then show myself off by a pretty 
complete recitation of a sermon. But now as much was said 
in the congregation, both for and against the new senior, and 
many placed no great confidence in his announced didactic 
sermons, I undertook to write them out more carefully, and I 
succeeded the better from having made smaller attempts in a 
seat very convenient for hearing, but concealed from sight, 
was extremely attentive and on the alert ; the moment he said 



118 TUTJTH AND POETRY; FEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

Amen I hastened from the church and consumed a couple of 
hours in rapidly dictating what I had fixed in my memory 
and on paper, so that I could hand in the written sermon be 
fore dinner. My father was very proud of this success, and 
the good friend of the family, who had just come in to dinner, 
also shared in the joy. Indeed, this friend was very well- 
disposed to me, because I had so made his Messiah my own, 
that in my repeated visits to him to get impressions of seals 
for my collection of coats-of-arms, I could recite long passages 
from it till the tears stood in his eyes. 

The next Sunday I prosecuted the work with equal zeal, and 
as the mechanical part of it mainly interested me, I did not 
reflect upon what I wrote and preserved. During the first 
quarter these efforts may have continued pretty much the 
same ; but as I fancied at last, in my self-conceit, that I found 
no particular enlightenment as to the Bible, nor clearer insight 
into dogmas, the small vanity which was thus gratified seemed 
to me too dearly purchased for me to pursue the matter with 
the same zeal. The sermons, once so many-leaved, grew more 
and more meagre ; and before long I should have relinquished 
this labour altogether, if my father, who was a fast friend to 
completeness, had not, by words and promises, induced me to 
persevere till the last Sunday in Trinity though, at the con 
clusion, scarcely more than the text, the statement, and the 
divisions were scribbled on little pieces of paper. 

My father was particularly pertinacious on this point of com 
pleteness. What was once undertaken must be finished, even 
if the inconvenience, tedium, vexation, nay, uselessness of the 
thing begun were plainly manifested in the meantime. It 
seemed as if he regarded completeness as the only end, and 
perseverance as the only virtue. If in our family circle, in the 
long winter evenings, we had begun to read a book aloud, we 
were compelled to finish, though we were all in despair about 
it, and my father himself was the first to yawn. I still re 
member such a winter when we had thus to work our way 
through Bower s History of the Popes. It was a terrible time f 
as little or nothing that occurs in ecclesiastical affairs can 
interest children and young people. Still, with all my inat 
tention and repugnance, so much of that reading remained in 
my mind that I was able, in after times, to take up many 
threads of the narrative. 



LESSONS IN FENCING. 119 

Amid all these heterogeneous occupations and labours, 
which followed each other so rapidly that one could hardly 
reflect whether they were permissible and useful, my father 
did not lose sight of the main object. He endeavoured 
to direct my memory and my talent for apprehending and 
combining to objects of jurisprudence, and therefore gave me 
a small book by Hopp, in the shape of a catechism, and 
worked up according to the form and substance of the Insti 
tutions. I soon learned questions and answers by heart, and 
could represent the catechist as well as the catechumen; 
and, as in religious instruction at that time, one of the chief 
exercises was to find passages in the Bible as readily as pos 
sible, so here a similar acquaintance with the Corpus Juris 
was found necessary, in which, also, I soon became completely 
versed. My father wished me to go on, and the little STUUVE 
was taken in hand; but here affairs did not proceed so 
rapidly. The form of the w^ork was not so favourable for 
beginners, that they could help themselves on, nor was my 
father s method of teaching so liberal as greatly to interest me. 

Not only by the warlike state in which we lived for some 
years, but also by civil life itself, and the perusal of history and 
romances, was it made clear to me that there were many 
cases in which the laws are silent and give no help to the 
individual, who must then see how to get out of the difficulty 
by himself. We had now reached the period when, according 
to the old routine, we were, besides other things, to learn to 
fence and ride, that we might guard our skins upon occasion, 
and have no pedantic appearance on horseback. As to the 
first, the practice was very agreeable to us ; for we had 
already, long ago, contrived to make broad-swords out ol 
hazel-sticks, with basket-hilts, neatly woven of willow, to 
protect the hands. Now we might get real steel blades, and 
the clash we made with them was very merry. 

There were two fencing-masters in the city : an old earnest 
German, who went to work in a severe and solid style, and a 
Frenchman, who sought to gain his advantage by advancing 
and retreating, and by light fugitive thrusts, which he always 
accompanied by cries. Opinions varied as to whose manner 
was the best. The little company with which I was to take 
lessons sided with the Frenchman, and we speedilv accus- 

X A/ 

tomed ourselves to move backwards and forwards, make passes 



120 TKTJTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY O\VN LIFE. 

and recover, always breaking out into the usual exclamations. 
But several of our acquaintance had gone to the German 
teacher, and practised precisely the opposite. These distinct 
modes of treating so important an exercise, the conviction of 
each that his master was the best, really caused a dissension 
among the young people, who were of about the same age, 
and the fencing-schools occasioned serious battles, for there 
was almost as much fighting with words as with swords ; and 
to decide the matter in the end, a trial of skill between the 
two teachers was arranged, the consequences of which I need 
not circumstantially describe. The German stood in his posi 
tion like a wall, watched his opportunity, and contrived to 
disarm his opponent over and over again with his cut and 
thrust. The latter maintained that this mattered not, and 
proceeded to exhaust the other s wind by his agility. He 
fetched the German several lunges, too, which, however, if 
they had been in earnest, would have sent himself into the 
next world. 

On the whole, nothing was decided or improved, except 
that some went over to our countryman, of whom I was one. 
But I had already acquired too much from the first master ; 
and hence a considerable time elapsed before the new one 
could break me of it, who was altogether less satisfied with 
us renegades than with his original pupils. 

As to riding, it fared still worse with me. It happened 
that they sent me to the course in the autumn, so that I com 
menced in the cool and damp season. The pedantic treat 
ment of this noble art was highly repugnant to me. From 
first to last the whole talk was about sitting the horse, and 
yet no one could say in what a proper sitting consisted, 
though all depended on that ; for they went to and fro on the 
horse without stirrups. Moreover, the instruction seemed 
contrived only for cheating and degrading the scholars. If 
one forgot to hook or loosen the curb-chain, or let his switch 
fall down, or even his hat, every delay, every misfortune, 
had to be atoned for by money, and one was even laughed at 
besides. This put me in the worst of humours, particularly 
when I found the place of exercise itself quite intolerable. 
The great nasty space, either wet or dusty, the cold, the 
mouldy smell, all together was in the highest degree repug 
nant to me ; and since the stable -master always gave the others 



THE REBEL FETTMILCH. 121 

the best and me the worst horses to ride, perhaps because 
they bribed him by breakfasts and other gifts, or even by their 
own cleverness ; since he kept me waiting, and, as it seemed, 
slighted me, I spent the most disagreeable hours in an employ 
ment that ought to have been the most pleasant in the w^orld. 
Nay, the impression of that time and of these circumstances 
has remained with me so vividly, that although I afterwards 
became a passionate and daring rider, and for days and weeks 
together scarcely got off my horse, I carefully shunned covered 
riding- courses, and at least passed only a few moments in them. 
The case often happens that when the elements of an exclu 
sive art are taught us, this is done in a painful and revolting 
manner. The conviction that this is both wearisome and in 
jurious, has given rise in later times to the educational maxim, 
that the young must be taught everything in an easy, cheerful, 
and agreeable way : from which, however, other evils and 
disadvantages have proceeded. 

With the approach of spring, times became again more 
quiet with us, and if in earlier days I had endeavoured to 
obtain a sight of the city, its ecclesiastical, civil, public and 
private structures, and especially found great delight in the 
still prevailing antiquities, I afterwards endeavoured, by means 
of Lernsner s Chronicle, and other Frankfortian books and 
pamphlets belonging to my father, to revive the persons of 
past times. This seemed to me to be well attained by great 
attention to the peculiarities of times and manners, and of 
distinguished individuals. 

Among the ancient remains, that which, from my child 
hood, had been remarkable to me, was the skull of a state 
criminal, fastened up on the tower of the bridge, who, out 
of three or four, as the naked iron spikes showed, had, since 
1616, been preserved in spite of the encroachments of time 
and weather. Whenever one returned from Sachsenhausen to 
Frankfort, one had this tower before one, and the skull was 
directly in view. As a boy, I liked to hear related the history 
of these rebels Fettmilch and his confederates how they 
had become dissatisfied with the government of the city, had 
risen up against it, plotted a mutiny, plundered the Jews 
quarter, and excited a fearful riot, but were at last captured, 
and condemned to death by a deputy of the eniDeror. After 
wards I felt anxious to know the most minute circumstance, 



122 TRUTH AIN D POETRY : FEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

and to hear what sort of people they were. When from an 
old cotemporary book, ornamented with woodcuts, I learned 
that while these men had indeed been condemned to death, 
many councillors had at the same time been deposed, because 
various kinds of disorder and very much that was unwarrant 
able was then going on ; when I heard the nearer particulars 
how all took place, I pitied the unfortunate persons who 
might be regarded as sacrifices made for a future better con 
stitution. For from that time was dated the regulation which 
allows the noble old house of Limpurg, the Frauenstein- 
house, sprung from a club, besides lawyers, tradespeople, 
and artisans, to take a part in a government, which, com 
pleted by a system of ballot, complicated in the Venetian 
fashion, and restricted by the civil colleges, was called to do 
right, without acquiring any special privilege to do wrong. 

Among the things which excited the misgivings of the Boy, 
and even of the youth, was especially the state of the Jewish 
quarter of the city (Judenstadf), properly called the Jew- 
street (Judengasse), as it consisted of little more than a single 
street, which in early times may have been hemmed in between 
the walls and trenches of the town, as in a prison (Zwinger). 
The closeness, the filth, the crowd, the accent of an unpleasant 
language, altogether made a most disagreeable impression, 
even if one only looked in as one passed the gate. It was 
long before I ventured in alone, and I did not return there 
readily, when I had once escaped the importunities of so 
many men unwearied in demanding and offering to traffic. 
At the same time the old legends of the cruelty of theuJews 
towards Christian children, which we had seen hideously illus 
trated in Godfrey s Chronicles, hovered gloomily before my 
young mind. And although they were thought better of in 
modern times, the large caricature, still to be seen, to their 
disgrace, on an arched wall under the bridge tower, bore 
extraordinary witness against them ; for it had been made, 
not through private ill-will, but by public order. 
! However, they still remained, nevertheless, the chosen 
people of God, and passed, no matter how it came about, as 
a memorial of the most ancient times. Besides, they also were 
men, active and obliging, and even to the tenacity with which 
they clung to their peculiar customs, one could not refuse one s 
respect. The girls, moreover, were pretty, and were far from 



PUBLIC BUHNING OF A BOOK. 123 

displeased when a Christian lad, meeting them on the sabbath 
in the Fischerfeld, showed himself kindly and attentive. I was 
consequently extremely curious to become acquainted with 
their ceremonies. I did not desist until I had frequently 
visited their school, had assisted at a circumcision and a wed 
ding, and had formed a notion of the Feast of the Tabernacles. 
Everywhere I was well received, pleasantly entertained, and 
invited to come again ; for they were persons of influence by 
whom I had been either introduced or recommended. 

Thus, as a young resident in a large city, I was thrown 
about from one object to another, and horrible scenes were 
not wanting in the midst of the municipal quiet and security. 
Sometimes a more or less remote fire aroused us from our 
domestic peace, sometimes the discovery of a great crime, 
with its investigation and punishment, set the whole city in 
an uproar for many weeks. We were forced to be witnesses of 
different executions ; and it is worth remembering, that I was 
also once present at the burning of a book. The publication 
was a French comic romance, which indeed spared the state, 
but not religion and manners. There was really something 
dreadful in seeing punishment inflicted on a lifeless thing. 
The packages exploded in the fire, and were raked asunder by 
an oven-fork, to be brought in closer contact with the flames. 
It was not long before the kindled sheets w r ere wafted about 
in the air, and the crowd caught at them with eagerness. Nor 
could we rest until we had hunted up a copy, while not a few 
managed likewise to procure the forbidden pleasure. Nay, 
if it had been done to give the author publicity, he could not 
himself have made a more effectual provision. 

But there were also more peaceable inducements which 
took me about in every part of the city. My father had 
early accustomed me to manage for him his little affairs of 

v O 

business. He charged me particularly to stir up the labourers 
whom he set to w r ork, as they commonly kept him waiting 
longer than was proper; because he wished everything 
done accurately, and was used in the end to lower the price 
for a prompt payment. In this way, I gained access to all 
the workshops ; and as it was natural to me to enter into the 
condition of others, to feel every species of human existence, 
and sympathize in it with pleasure, these commissions were 
to me the occasion of many most delightful hours, and I 



124 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

learned to know every one s method of proceeding, and what 
joy and sorrow, what advantages and hardships, were incident 
to the indispensable conditions of this or that mode of life. 
I was thus brought nearer to that active class which connects 
the lower and upper classes. For, if on the one side stand 
those who are employed in the simple and rude products, and 
on the other those who desire to enjoy something that has 
been already worked up ; the manufacturer, with his skill 
and hand, is the mediator through whom the other two receive 
something from each other ; each is enabled to gratify his 
wishes in his own way. The household economy of many 
crafts, which took its form and colour from the occupation, 
was likewise an object of my quiet attention ; and thus was 
developed and strengthened in me the feeling of the equality, 
if not of all men, yet of all human conditions, the mere fact 
of existence seeming to me the main point, and all the rest 
indifferent and accidental. 

As my father did not readily allow himself an expense which 
would be at once consumed in a momentary enjoyment as I can 
scarcely call to mind that we ever took a walk together, and 
spent anything in a place of amusement, he was, on the other 
hand, not niggardly in procuring such things as had a 
good external appearance in addition to inward value. No 
one could desire peace more than he, although he had not felt 
the smallest inconvenience during the last days of the war. 
With this feeling, he had promised my mother a gold snuff 
box, set with diamonds, which she was to receive as soon as 
peace should be publicly declared. In the expectation of the 
happy event, they had laboured now for some years on this 
present. The box, which was tolerably large, had been exe 
cuted in Hanau, for my father was on good terms with 
the gold-workers there, as well as with, the heads of the silk 
establishments. Many designs were made for it ; the cover 
was adorned by a basket of flowers, over which hovered a 
dove with the olive-branch. A vacant space was left for the 
jewels, which were to be set partly in the dove and partly on 
the spot where the box is usually opened. The jeweller to 
whom the execution and the requisite stones were entrusted 
was named Lautensak, and was a brisk, skilful man, who 
like many artists, seldom did what was necessary; but usually 
works of caprice, which gave him pleasure. The jewels were 



LAUTENSAK S BOUQUET. 125 

very soon set, in the shape in which they were to be put 
upon the box, on some black wax, and looked very well ; but 
they would not come off to be transferred to the gold. In 
the outset, my father let the matter rest; but as the hope 
of peace became livelier, and finally when the stipulations 
particularly the elevation of the Archduke Joseph to the 
Roman throne seemed more precisely known, he grew more 
and more impatient, and I had to go several times a week, 
nay, at last, almost daily, to visit the tardy artist. By means 
of my unremitted teazing and exhortation, the work went on, 
though slowly enough ; for as it was of that kind which can 
be taken in hand or laid aside at will, there was always 
something by which it was thrust out of the way, and put 
aside. 

The chief cause of this conduct, however, was a task which 
the artist had undertaken on his own account. Everybody 
knew that the Emperor Francis cherished a strong liking for 
jewels, and especially for coloured stones. Lautcnsak had ex 
pended a considerable sum, and as it afterwards turned out 
larger than his means, on such gems, out of which he had 
begun to shape a nosegay, in which every stone was to be 
tastefully disposed, according to its shape and colour, and the 
whole form a work of art worthy to stand in the treasure- 
vaults of an emperor. He had, in his desultory way, laboured 
for many years upon it, and now hastened because after tke 
hoped-for peace the arrival of the Emperor, for the corona 
tion of his son, was expected in Frankfort to complete it 
and finally to put it together. My desire to become ac 
quainted with such things he used very dexterously in order 
to distract me as a bearer of threats, and to lead me away 
from my intention. He strove to impart a knowledge of 
these stones to me, and made me attentive to their pro 
perties and value, so that in the end I knew his whole 
bouquet by heart, and quite as well as he could have demon 
strated its virtues to a customer. It is even now before me, 
and I have since seen more costly, but not more graceful 
specimens of show and magnificence in this sort. He pos 
sessed, moreover, a pretty collection of engravings, and other 
works of art, with which he liked to amuse himself; and 
I passed many hours with him, not without profit. Finally, 
when the Congress of Hubertsburg was finally fixed, he did 



126 TRUTH AND POETRY ; PROM MY OWN LIFE. 

for my sake more than was due ; and the dove and flowers 
actually reached my mother s hands on the festival in celebra 
tion of the peace. 

I then received also many similar commissions to urge on 
painters with respect to pictures which had been ordered. 
My father had confirmed himself in the notion and few men 
were free from it that a picture painted on wood was greatly 
to be preferred to one that was merely put on canvas. It was 
therefore his great care to possess good oak boards, of every 
shape, because he well knew that just on this important point 
the more careless artists trusted to the joiners. The oldest planks 
were hunted up, the joiners were obliged to go accurately to 
work with gluing, painting, and arranging, and they were 
then kept for years in an upper room, where they could be 
sufficiently dried. A precious board of this kind was intrusted 
to the painter JUNKER, who was to represent on it an orna 
mental flower-pot, with the most important flowers drawn 
after nature in his artistic and elegant manner. It was just 
about the spring-time, and I did not fail to take him several 
times a week the most beautiful flowers that fell in my way, 
which he immediately put in, and by degrees composed the 
whole out of these elements with the utmost care and fidelity. 
On one occasion I had caught a mouse, which I took to him, 
and which he desired to copy as a very pretty animal ; nay, 
really represented it, as accurately as possible, gnawing an ear 
of corn at the foot of the flower-pot. Many such inoffen 
sive natural objects, such as butterflies and chafers, were 
brought in and represented, so that finally, as far as imitation 
and execution were concerned, a highly valuable picture was 
put together. 

Hence I was not a little astonished when the good man 
formally declared one day, when the work was just about to 
be delivered, that the picture no longer pleased him, since, 
while it had turned out quite well in its details, it was not 
well composed as a whole, because it had been produced in 
this gradual manner; and he had perpetrated a blunder in 
the outset, in not at least devising a general plan for light and 
shade, as well as for colour, according to which the single 
flowers might have been arranged. He examined with me 
the minutest parts of the picture, which had arisen before my 
eyes during a half year, and had in many respects pleased me, 



OIL-CLOTH FACTORY. 127 

and managed to convince me perfectly, much to my regret. 
Even the copy of the mouse he regarded as a mistake ; for 
many persons, he said, have a sort of horror of such animals, 
and they should not be introduced where the object is to 
excite pleasure. As it commonly happens with those who 
are cured of a prejudice, and imagine themselves much more 
knowing than they were before, I now had a real contempt 
for this work of art, and agreed perfectly with the artist when 
he caused to be prepared another tablet of the same size, on 
which, according to his taste, he painted a better formed vessel 
and a more artistically arranged nosegay, and also managed 
to select and distribute the little living accessories in an orna 
mental and agreeable way. This tablet also he painted with 
the greatest care, though altogether after the former copied 
one, or from memory, which, through a very long and assi 
duous practice, came to his aid. Both paintings were now 
ready, and we were thoroughly delighted with the last, which 
was certainly the more artistic and striking of the two. My 
father was surprised with two pictures instead of one, and to 
him the choice was left. He approved of our opinion, and of 
the reasons for it, and especially of our good- will and activity ; 
but, after considering both pictures some days, decided in 
favour of the first, without saying much about the motives of 
his choice. The artist, in an ill-humour, took back his second 
well-meant picture, and could not refrain from the remark that 
the good oaken tablet on which the first was painted had cer 
tainly its effect on my father s decision. 

Now I am again speaking of painting, I am reminded of a 
large establishment, where I passed much time, because both 
it and its managers especially attracted me. It w r as the great 
oil-cloth factory which the painter NOTHNAGEL had erected; 
an expert artist, but one who by his mode of thought inclined 
more to manufacture than to art. In a very large space of 
courts and gardens, all sorts of oil-cloths were made, from the 
coarsest that are spread with a trowel, and used for baggage- 
wagons and similar purposes, and the carpets impressed with 
figures, to the finer and the finest, on which sometimes 
Chinese and grotesque, sometimes natural flowers, sometimes 
figures, sometimes landscapes were represented by the pencils 
of accomplished workmen. This multiplicity, to which there 
was no end, amused me vastly. The occupation of so many 



128 THUTH A3SD POETHY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

men, from the commonest labour to that in which a certain 
artistic worth could not be denied, was to me extremely attrac 
tive. I made the acquaintance of this multitude of younger 
and older men, working in several rooms one behind the other, 
and occasionally lent a hand myself. The sale of these com- 
modities was extraordinarily brisk. Whoever at that time 
was building or furnishing a house, wished to provide for 
his lifetime, and this oil-cloth carpeting was certainly quite 
indestructible. Nothnagel had enough to do in managing 
the whole, and sat in his office surrounded by factors and 
clerks. The remainder of his time he employed in his collection 
of works of art, consisting chiefly of engravings, in which, as 
well as in the pictures he possessed, he traded occasionally. 
At the same time he had acquired a taste for etching ; he 
etched a variety of plates, and prosecuted this branch of art 
even into his latest years. 

As his dwelling lay near the Eschenheim gate, my way 
when I had visited him led me out of the city to some pieces 
of ground which my father owned beyond the gates. One was 
a large orchard, the soil of which was used as a meadow, and 
in which my father carefully attended the transplanting 01 
trees, and whatever else pertained to their preservation, though 
the ground itself was leased. Still more occupation was fur 
nished by a very well-preserved vineyard beyond the Fried- 
berg gate, where between the rows of vines, rows of asparagus 
were planted and tended with great care. Scarcely a day 
passed in the fine season in which my father did not go there, 
and as on these occasions we might generally accompany him, 
we were provided with joy and delight from the earliest pro 
ductions of spring to the last of autumn. We also learned 
to occupy ourselves with gardening matters, which, as they 
were repeated every year, became in the end perfectly known 
and familiar to us. But after the manifold fruits of summer 
and autumn, the vintage at last was the most lively and the 
most desirable : nay, there is no question that as wine gives 
a freer character to the very places and districts where it is 
grown and drunk, so also do these vintage-days, while they 
close summer and at the same time open the winter, diffuse 
an incredible cheerfulness. Joy and jubilation pervade a 
whole district. In the daytime, huzzas and shoutings are 
heard from every end and corner, and at night rockets and 



:FBANKFOBT CHARACTERS TON OLENSCHLAGEE. 129 

fire-balls, now here, now there, announce that the people, 
everywhere awake and lively, would willingly make this festi 
val last as long as possible. The subsequent labour at the 
wine-press, and during the fermentation in the cellar, gave us 
also a cheerful employment at home, and thus we ordinarily 
reached winter without being properly aware of it. 

These rural possessions delighted us so much the more in 
the spring of 1763, as the 15th of February in that year was 
celebrated as a festival day, on account of the conclusion of 
the Hubertsberg peace, under the happy results of which the 
greater part of my life was to flow away. But before I go 
further, I think I am bound to mention some men who exerted 
an important influence on my youth. 

VON OJLENSCHLAGER, a member of the Frauenstein family, 
a Schoff, and son-in-law of the above-mentioned Dr. Orth, a 
handsome, comfortable, sanguine man. In his official holiday 
costume he could well have personated the most important 
French prelate. After his academical course, he had em 
ployed himself in political and state affairs, and directed even 
his travels to that end. He greatly esteemed me, and often 
conversed with me on matters which chiefly interested him. 
I was with him when he wrote his Illustration of the Golden 
Bull ; when he managed to explain to me very clearly the 
worth and dignity of that document. My imagination was 
led back by it to those wild and unquiet times, so that I could 
not forbear representing what he related historically, as if it 
were present, by pictures of characters and circumstances, 
and often by mimicry. In this he took great delight, and by 
his applause excited me to repetition. 

I had from childhood the singular habit of always learning 
by heart the beginnings of books, and the divisions of a work, 
first of the five books of Moses, and then of the ^Eneid and 
Ovid s Metamorphoses. I now did the same thing with the 
Golden Bull, and often provoked my patron to a smile, w r hen 
I quite seriously and unexpectedly exclaimed, " Omne regnum 
in se divisum desolabitur ; nam principes ejus facti sunt socii 
furum."* The knowing man shook his head, smiling, and 
said doubtingly, " What times those must have been, when 

Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desola 
tion ; for the princes thereof have become the associates of robbers. 
Trans. 

K 



130 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

at a grand Diet, the Emperor had such words published in 
the face of his princes ! : 

There was a great charm in Von Olenschlager s society. He 
received little company, but was strongly inclined to intel 
lectual amusement, and induced us young people from time 
to time to perform a play; for such exercises were deemed 
particularly useful to the young. We gave the CANUTE of 
Schlegel, in which the part of the king was assigned to me, 
Elfrida to my sister, and Ulfo to the younger son of the family. 
We then ventured on the BRITANNICUS,* for, besides our dra 
matic talents, we were to bring the language into practice. I 
took Nero, my sister, Agrippina, and the younger son, Britan- 
nicus. We were more praised than we deserved, and fancied 
that we had done it even beyond the amount of praise. Thus 
I stood on the best terms with this family, and have been 
indebted to them for many pleasures and a speedier develop 
ment. 

VON EEINECK, of an old patrician family, able, honest, but 
stubborn, a meagre, swarthy man, whom I never saw smile. 
The misfortune befell him that his only daughter was carried 
off by a friend of the family. He pursued his son-in-law with 
the most vehement prosecution; and because the tribunals, 
with their formality, were neither speedy nor sharp enough to 
gratify his desire of vengeance, he fell out with them ; and 
there arose quarrel on quarrel, suit on suit. He retired com 
pletely into his own house and its adjacent garden, lived in a 
spacious but melancholy lower-room, into which for many 
years no brush of a white washer, and perhaps scarcely the broom 
of a maid-servant, had found its way. Me he could readily 
endure, and he had especially commended to me his younger 
son. He many times asked his oldest friends, who knew how 
to humour him, his men of business and agents, to dine with 
him, and on these occasions never omitted inviting me. There 
was good eating and better drinking at his house. But a large 
stove, that let out the smoke from many cracks, caused the 
greatest pain to his guests. One of the most intimate of these 
once ventured to remark upon this, by asking the host whether 
lie could put up with such an inconvenience all the winter. He 
answered, like a second Timon or Heautontimoroumenos : 
" Would to God this was the greatest evil of those which torment 

* Racine s tragedy. Trans. 



FRANKFORT CHARACTERS YON REINECK. 131 

me!" It was long before he allowed himself to be persuaded 
to see his daughter and grandson. The son-in-law never again 
dared to come into his presence. 

On this excellent but unfortunate man my visits had a very 
favourable effect ; for while he liked to converse with me, and 
particularly instructed me on world and state affairs, he seemed 
to feel himself relieved and cheered. The few old friends who 
still gathered round him, often, therefore, made use of me 
when they wished to soften his peevish humour, and persuade 
him to any diversion. He now really rode out with us many 
times, and again contemplated the country, on which he had 
not cast an eye for so many years. He called to mind the old 
landowners, and told stories of their characters and actions, in 
which he showed himself always severe, but often cheerful and 
witty. We now tried also to bring him again among other 
men, which, however, nearly turned out badly. 

About the same age, if indeed not older, was one HERE, 
VON MALAPERT, a rich man, who possessed a very handsome, 
house by the Horse-market, and derived a good income from 
salt-pits. He also lived quite secluded : but in summer he 
was a great deal in his garden, near the Bockenheim gate, 
where he watched and tended a very fine plot of pinks. 

Von Reineck w r as likewise an amateur of pinks ; the season 
of flowering had come, and suggestions were made as to 
whether these two could not visit each other. We introduced 
the matter, and persisted in it, till at last Von Reineck resolved 
to go out with us one Sunday afternoon. The greeting of the 
two old gentlemen was very laconic, indeed, almost panto 
mimic, and they walked up and down by the long pink frames 
with true diplomatic strides. The display was really extraor 
dinarily beautiful, and the particular forms and colours of the 
different flowers, the advantages of one over the other, and 
their rarity, gave at last occasion to a sort of conversation, 
which appeared to get quite friendly ; at which we others 
rejoiced the more because we saw the most precious old 
Rhine wine in cut decanters, fine fruits, and other good things, 
spread upon a table in a neighbouring bower. But these, alas 
we were not to enjoy. For Von Reineck unfortunately saw a 
very fine pink .with its head somewhat hanging down ; ho 
therefore took tne stalk near the calyx very cautiously between 
his fore and middle fingers, and lifted the flower so that he 

K2 



132 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

could well inspect it. But eyen this gentle handling vexed 
the owner. Von Malapert courteously, indeed, but stiffly 
enough, and somewhat self- complacently, reminded him of 
the OcuK&, non manibus.* Von Reineck had already let go the 
flower, but at once took fire at the words, and said in his 
usual dry, earnest manner, that it was quite consistent with 
an amateur to touch and examine them in such a manner. 
Whereupon he repeated the act, and took the flower again 
between his fingers. The friends of both parties for Von 
Malapert also had one present were now in the greatest per 
plexity. They set one hare to catch another (that was our 
proverbial expression, when a conversation was to be inter 
rupted, and turned to another subject), but it would not do ; 
the old gentleman had become quite silent, and we feared every 
moment that Von Reineck would repeat the act, when it would 
be all over with us. The two friends kept their principals 
apart by occupying them, now here, now there, and at last we 
found it most expedient to make preparation for departure. 
Thus, alas ! we were forced to turn our backs on the inviting 
side-board, yet unenjoyed. 

HOFRATH HTJISGEN, not born in Frankfort, of the reformedf 
religion, and therefore incapable of public office, including the 
profession of advocate, which, however, because much con 
fidence was placed in him as an excellent jurist, he managed 
to exercise quietly, both in the Frankfort and the imperial 
courts, under assumed signatures, was already sixty years 
old when I took writing lessons with his son, and so came 
into his house. His figure was tall without being thin, and 
broad without corpulency. You could not look, for the- 
first time, on his face, which was not only disfigured by small 
pox, but deprived of an eye, without apprehension. He always 
wore on his bald head a perfectly white bell- shaped cap, tied 
at the top with a ribbon. His morning-gowns, of calamanco or 
damask, were always very clean. He dwelt in a very cheer 
ful suite of rooms on the ground-floor by the Allee, and the 
neatness of everything about him corresponded with this cheer 
fulness. The perfect arrangement of his papers, books, and 
maps, produced a favourable impression. His son Heinrich 

* Eyes, not hands. Trans. 

f That is to say, he was a Calvinist, as distinguished from a Lutheran. 
Trans 



FKANKEOUT CHARACTERS HOFRATH HTJTSGEN^ 133 

Sebastian, afterwards known by various writings on Art, gave 
little promise in his youth. Good-natured but dull, not rude 
but blunt, and without any special liking for instruction, he 
rather sought to avoid the presence of his father, as he could 
get all he wanted from his mother. I, on the other hand, grew 
more and more intimate with the old man, the more I knew 
of him. As he attended only to important cases, he had time 
enough to occupy and amuse himself in another manner. I 
had not long frequented his house, and heard his doctrines, 
than I could well perceive that he stood in opposition to God 
and the world. One of his favourite books was Agrippa de 
Vanitate Scientiarum, which he especially commended to me, 
and so set my young brains in a considerable whirl for a long 
time. In the happiness of youth I was inclined to a sort of 
optimism, and had again pretty well reconciled myself with 
God or the Gods ; for the experience of a series of years had 
taught me that there was much to counterbalance evil, that 
one can well recover from misfortune, and may be saved from 
dangers without always going about breaking one s neck. I 
looked with tolerance, too, on what men did and pursued, and 
found many things worthy of praise which my old gentleman 
could not by any means abide. Indeed, once when he had 
sketched the world to me, rather from the distorted side, I 
observed from his appearance that he meant to close the game 
with an important trump- card. He shut tight his blind left 
eye, as he was wont to do in such cases, looked sharp out of 
the other, and said in a nasal voice, " Even in God I discover 
defects." 

My Timonic mentor was also a mathematician, but his prac 
tical turn drove him to mechanics, though he did not work 
himself. A clock, wonderful indeed in those days, which indi 
cated not only the days and hours, but the motions of the sun 
and moon, he caused to be made according to his own plan. 
On Sunday, about ten o clock in the morning, he always wound 
it up himself, which he could do the more regularly, as he never 
went to church. I never saw company nor guests at his house ; 
and only twice in ten years do I remember to have seen him 
dressed and out of doors. 

My various conversations with these men were not insignifi 
cant, and each of them influenced me in his own way. From 
every one I had as much attention as his own children, if not 



134 TRUTH AND POETRY; PROM MY OWN LIFE. 

more, and each, strove to increase his delight in me as in a be 
loved son, while he aspired to mould me into his moral counter 
part. Olenschlager would have made me a courtier, Von Rei- 
jieck a diplomatic man of business ; both, the latter particularly, 
sought to disgust me with poetry and authorship. Huisgen 
wished me to be a Timon after his fashion, but, at the same 
time, an able juris-consult ; a necessary profession, as he 
thought, with which one could in a regular manner defend 
oneself and friends against the rabble of mankind, succour the 
oppressed, and above all, pay off a rogue ; though the last is 
neither especially practicable nor advisable. 

But if I liked to be at the side of these men to profit by their 
counsels and directions, younger persons, only a little older 
than myself, roused me to immediate emulation. I name here 
before all others, the brothers SCHLOSSER and GRIESBACH. 
But, as I came subsequently into a more intimate connexion 
with these, which lasted for many years uninterruptedly, I will 
only say for the present, that they were then praised as being 
distinguished in languages and other studies which opened the- 
academical course, and held up as models, and that everybody 
cherished the certain expectation that they would once do 
something uncommon in church and state. 

With respect to myself, I also had it in my mind to produce 
something extraordinary, but in what it was to consist was not 
clear. But as we are apt to think rather upon the reward 
which may be received than upon the merit which is to be 
acquired, so, I do not deny, that if I thought of a desirable 
piece of good fortune, it appeared to me most fascinating in 
the shape of that laurel garland which is woven to adorn the 
poet. 



FIFTH BOOK. 



EVEHY bird has its decoy, and every man is led and misled in 
a way peculiar to himself. Nature, education, circumstances,, 
and habit kept me apart from all that was rude ; and though 
I often came into contact with the lower classes of people, par 
ticularly mechanics, no close connexion grew out of it. I had 
indeed boldness enough to undertake something uncommon 
and perhaps dangerous, and many times felt disposed to do 
so ; but I was without the handle by which to grasp and 
hold it. 

Meanwhile I was quite unexpectedly involved in an affair 
which brought me near to a great hazard, and at least for a 
long time into perplexity and distress. The good terms on 
which I before stood with the boy whom I have already named 
Pylades was maintained up to the time of my youth. We 
indeed saw each other less often, because our parents did not 
stand on the best footing with each other ; but when we did 
meet, the old raptures df friendship broke out immediately. 
Once we met in the alleys which offer a very agreeable \valk 
between the outer and inner gate of Saint Gallus. We had 
scarcely returned greetings, than he said to me, " I hold to 
the same opinion as ever about your verses. Those which 
you recently communicated to me, I read aloud to some plea 
sant companions, and not one of them will believe that you 
have made them." "Let it pass," I answered; "we will 
make them and enjoy them, and the others may think and 
say of them what they please." 

"There comes the unbeliever now," added my friend. 
" We will not speak of it," I replied ; " what is the use of it? 
one cannot convert them." " By no means," said my friend; 
" I cannot let the affair pass off in this way." 

After a short and indifferent conversation, my young com 
rade, who was but too well disposed towards me, could not 
suffer the matter to drop, without saying to the other, with 
some resentment, " Here is my friend who made those pretty 



136 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

verses, for which you will not give him credit ! " He will cer 
tainly not be offended at that," answered the other, " for we do 
him an honour when we suppose that more learning is required 
to make such verses than one of his years can possess." I re 
plied with something indifferent; but my friend continued, 
" It will not cost much labour to convince you. Give him 
any theme, and he will make you a poem on the spot." 
I assented, we were agreed, and the other asked me whether 
I would venture to compose a pretty love-letter in rhyme, 
which a modest young woman might be supposed to write to 
a young man, to declare her inclination. " Nothing is easier 
than that," I answered, "if I only had writing materials." 
He pulled out his pocket almanac, in which there were a great 
many blank leaves, and I sat down upon a bench to write. 
They walked about in the meanwhile, but always kept me in 
sight. I immediately brought the required situation before 
my mind, and thought how agreeable it must be if some pretty 
girl were really attached to me, and would reveal her senti 
ments to me, either in prose or verse. I therefore began my 
declaration with delight, and in a little while executed it in a 
flowing measure, between doggerel and madrigal, with the 
greatest possible naivete, and in such a way that the sceptic 
was overcome with admiration, and my friend with delight. 
The request of the former to possess the poem I could the less 
refuse, as it was written in his almanac ; and I willingly saw 
the documentary evidence of my capabilities in his hands. 
He departed with many assurances of admiration and respect, 
and wished for nothing more than that we should often meet; 
so we settled soon to go together into the country. 

Our party actually took place, and was joined by several 
more young people of the same rank. They were men of the 
middle, or, if you please, of the lower class, who were not 
wanting in brains, and who moreover, as they had gone through 
school, were possessed of various knowledge and a certain 
degree of culture. In a large, rich city there are many modes 
of gaining a livelihood. These got on by copying for the 
lawyers, and by advancing the children of the lower order 
more than is usual in common schools. With grown-up 
children, who were about to be confirmed, they went through 
the religious courses ; then, again, they assisted factors and 
merchants in some way, and were thus enabled to enjoy them- 



PIRST ACQUAINTANCE WITH GBETCHEN. 137 

V 

selves frugally in the evenings, and particularly on Sundays 
and festivals. 

On the way there, while they highly extolled my love- 
letter, they confessed to me that they had made a very merry 
use of it, viz. that it had been copied in a feigned hand, 
and, with a few pertinent allusions, had been sent to a con 
ceited young man, who was now firmly persuaded that a lady 
to whom he had paid distant court was excessively enamoured 
of him, and sought an opportunity for closer acquaintance. 
They at the same time told me in confidence, that he desired 
nothing more now than to be able to answer her in verse ; but 
that neither he nor they were skilful enough, so that they 
earnestly solicited me to compose the much- desired reply. 

Mystifications are and will continue to be an amusement 
for idle people, whether more or less ingenious. A venial 
wickedness, a self-complacent malice, is an enjoyment for 
those who have neither resources in themselves nor a whole 
some external activity. No age is quite exempt from such 
pruriences. We had often tricked each other in our childish 
years ; many sports turn upon mystification and trick. The 
present jest did not seem to me to go further ; I gave my con 
sent. They imparted to me many particulars which the letter 
ought to contain, and we brought it home already finished. 

A little while afterwards I was urgently invited, through 
my friend, to take part in one of the evening feasts of that 
society. The lover, he said, was willing to bear the expense 
on this occasion, and desired expressly to thank the friend 
who had shown himself so excellent a poetical secretary. 

We came together late enough, the meal was most frugal, the 
wine drinkable : while as for the conversation, it turned almost 
entirely on jokes upon the young man, who was present, and 
certainly not very bright, and who, after repeated readings of 
the letter, almost believed that he had written it himself. 

My natural good-nature would not allow me to take much 
pleasure in such a malicious deception, and the repetition of 
the same subject soon disgusted me. I should certainly have 
passed a tedious evening, if an unexpected apparition had not 
revived me. On our arrival the table had already been neatly 
and orderly covered, and sufficient wine had been put on; 
we sat down and remained alone, without requiring further 
service. As there was, however, a want of wine at last, one 



138 TRUTH AND POETEY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

of them called for the maid ; but instead of the maid there 
came in a girl of uncommon, and, when one saw her with all 
around her, of incredible beauty. "What do you desire? 1 
she asked, after having cordially wished us a good evening ; 
" the maid is ill in bed. Can I serve you ? ; " The wine is 
out," said one ; "if you would fetch us a few bottles, it would 
be very kind." " Do it, Gretchen," * said another, " it is but 
a cat s leap from here." "Whynot? : she answered, and 
taking a few empty bottles from the table, she hastened out. 
Her form, as seen from behind, was almost more elegant. 
The little cap sat so neatly upon her little head, which a 
slender throat united very gracefully to her neck and shoul 
ders. Everything about her seemed choice, and one could 
survey her whole form the more at ease, as one s attention 
was no more exclusively attracted and fettered by the quiet, 
honest eyes and lovely mouth. I reproved my comrades for 
sending the girl out alone at night, but they only laughed at 
me, and I was soon consoled by her return, as the publican 
lived only just across the way. " Sit down with us, in re 
turn," said one. She did so ; but, alas, she did not come 
near me. She drank a glass to our health, and speedily 
departed, advising us not to stay very long together, and not 
to be so noisy, as her mother was just going to bed. It 
was not, however, her own mother, but the mother of our 
hosts. 

The form of that girl followed me from that moment on every 
path ; it was the first durable impression which a female being 
had made upon me ; and as I could find no pretext to see her 
at home, and would not seek one, I went to church for love of 
her, and had soon traced out where she sat. Thus, during 
the long Protestant service, I gazed my fill at her. When 
the congregation left the church I did not venture to accost 
her, much less to accompany her, and was perfectly delighted 
if she seemed to have remarked me and to have returned my 
greeting with a nod. Yet I was not long denied the happiness 
of approaching her. They had persuaded the lover, whose 
poetical secretary I had been, that the letter written in his 
name had been actually despatched to the lady, and had 
strained to the utmost his expectations that an answer must 
soon come. This, also, I was to write, and the waggish com- 
* The diminutive of Margaret. Trans. 



GRETCHEN S ADVICE. 139 

pany entreated me earnestly, through Pylades, to exert all my 
wit and employ all my art, in order that this piece might be 
quite elegant and perfect. 

In the hope of again seeing my fair one, I went immediately 
to work, and thought of everything that would be in the high 
est degree pleasing if Gretchen were writing it to me. I 
imagined I had written out everything so completely from her 
form, her nature, her manner, and her mind, that I could not 
refrain from wishing that it were so in reality, and lost myself 
in rapture at the mere thought that something similar could 
be sent from her to me. Thus I mystified myself, while I 
intended to impose upon another ; and much joy and much 
trouble was yet to arise out of the affair. When I was once 
more summoned, I had finished, promised to come, and did 
not fail at the appointed hour. There was only one of the 
young people at home ; Gretchen sat at the window spinning ; 
the mother was going to and fro. The young man desired 
that I should read to him aloud ; I did so, and read not with 
out emotion, as I glanced over the paper at the beautiful girl ; 
and when I fancied that I remarked a certain uneasiness in 
her deportment, and a gentle flush on her cheeks, I uttered 
better and with more animation that which I wished to hear 
from herself. The cousin, who had often interrupted me with 
commendations, at last entreated me to make some amend 
ments. These affected some passages which indeed were 
rather suited to the condition of Gretchen than to that of the 
lady, who was of a good family, wealthy, and known and 
respected in the city. After the young man had designated 
the desired changes, and had brought me an inkstand, but had 
taken leave for a short time on account of some business, 
I remained sitting on the bench against the wall, behind the 
large table, and essayed the alterations that were to be made, 
on the large slate, which almost covered the whole table, 
using a style that always lay in the window, because upon this 
slate reckonings were often made, and various memoranda 
noted down, and those coming in or going out even commu 
nicated with each other. 

I had for a while written different things and rubbed them 
out again, when I exclaimed impatiently, " It will not do ! 
" So much the better," said the dear girl, in a grave tone ; 
" I wished that it might not do ! You should not meddle in 



140 TEUTH AND POETRY; FBOM MY OWN LIFE. 

such matters." She arose from the distaff, and stepping 
towards the table, gave me a severe lecture, with a great deal 
of good sense and kindliness. " The thing seems an innocent 
jest ; it is a jest, but it is not innocent. I have already lived 
to see several cases, in which our young people, for the sake 
of such mere mischief, have brought themselves into great 
difficulty." " But what shaU I do ? " I asked ; " the letter is 
written, and they rely upon me to alter it." "Trust me," 
she replied, " and do not alter it ; nay, take it back, put it in 
your pocket, go away, and try to make the matter straight 
through your friend. I will also put in a word ; for look you, 
though I am a poor girl, and dependent upon these relations, 
who indeed do nothing bad, though they often, for the sake 
of sport or profit, undertake a good deal that is rash, I have 
resisted them, and would not copy the first letter, as they 
requested. They transcribed it in a feigned hand, and if it is 
not otherwise, so may they also do with this. And you, a 
young man of good family, rich, independent, why will you 
allow yourself to be used as a tool in a business which can 
certainly bring no good to you, and may possibly bring much 
that is unpleasant ? ; I was glad to hear her speaking thus 
continuously, for generally she introduced but few words into 
conversation. My liking for her grew incredibly, I w r as not 
master of myself, and replied, " I am not so independent as 
you suppose ; and of what use is wealth to me, when the 
most precious thing I can desire is wanting? 

She had drawn my sketch of the poetic epistle towards her, 
and read it half aloud in a sweet and graceful manner. 
That is very pretty," said she, stopping at a sort of naive 
point ; " but it is a pity that it is not destined for a real pur 
pose." "That were indeed very desirable," I cried, "and, 
oh ! how happy must he be, who receives from a girl he infi 
nitely loves, such an assurance of her affection." " There is 
much required for that," she answered; "and yet many 
things are possible." " For example," I continued, " if any 
one who knew, prized, honoured, and adored you, laid such a 
paper before you, what would you do ? I pushed the paper 
nearer to her, which she had previously pushed back to me. 
She smiled, reflected for a moment, took the pen, and sub 
scribed her name. I was beside myself with rapture, sprang 
up, and would have embraced her. " No kissing ! " said she, 



JUVENILE LOVE. 141 

" that is so vulgar ; but let us love if we can." I had taken 
up the paper, and thrust it into my pocket. " No one shall 
ever get it," said I; "the affair is closed. You have saved 
me." " Now complete the salvation," she exclaimed, " and 
hurry off, before the others arrive, and you fall into trouble 
and embarrassment." I could not tear myself away from her; 
but she asked me in so kindly a manner, while she took my 
right hand in both of hers, and lovingly pressed it! The 
tears stood in my eyes; I thought hers looked moist. I 
pressed my face upon her hands and hastened away. Never 
in my life had I found myself in such perplexity. 

The first propensities to love in an uncorrupted youth take 
altogether a spiritual direction. Nature seems to desire that 
one sex may by the senses perceive goodness and beauty in 
the other. And thus to me, by the sight of this girl by my 
strong inclination for her a new world of the beautiful and 
the excellent had arisen. I read my poetical epistle a hundred 
times through, gazed upon the signature, kissed it, pressed it 
to my heart, and rejoiced in this amiable confession. But the 
more my transports increased, the more did it pain me, not to 
be able to visit her immediately, and to see and converse with 
her again; for I dreaded the reproofs and importunities of 
her cousins. The good Pylades, who might have arranged the 
affair, I could not contrive to meet. The next Sunday, there 
fore, I set out for Niederrad, where these associates generally 
used to go, and actually found them there. I was, however, 
greatly surprised, when, instead of behaving in a cross, distant 
manner, they came up to me with joyful countenances. The 
youngest particularly was very friendly, took me by the hand, 
and said, " You have lately played us a sorry trick, and we 
were very angry with you ; but your absconding and taking 
away the poetical epistle has suggested a good thought to us, 
which otherwise might never have occurred. By way of atone 
ment, you may treat us to-day, and you shall learn at the same 
time the notion we have, which will certainly give you plea 
sure." This address put me in no little perplexity ; for I had 
about me only money enough to regale myself and a friend ; 
but to treat a whole company, and especially one which did 
not always stop at the right time, I was by no means pre 
pared ; nay, the proposal astonished me the more, as they had 
always insisted, in the most honourable manner, that each 



142 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

one should pay only his own share. They smiled at my dis 
tress, and the youngest proceeded, " Let us first take a seat 
in the bower, and then you shall learn more." We sat down, 
and he said, " When you had taken the love-letter with 
you, we talked the whole affair over again, and came to a 
conclusion that we had gratuitously misused your talent to the 
vexation of others and our own danger, for the sake of a mere 
paltry love of mischief, when we could have employed it to the 
advantage of all of us. See, I have here an order for a wed- 
ding-poem, as well as for a dirge. The second must be ready 
immediately, the other can wait a week. Now, if you make 
these, which is easy for you, you will treat us twice, and we 
shall long remain your debtors." This proposition pleased 
me in every respect; for I had already in my childhood 
looked with a certain envy on the occasional poems, * of which 
then several circulated every week, and at respectable mar 
riages especially came to light by the dozen, because I thought 
I could make such things as well, nay, better than others. 
Now an opportunity was offered me to show myself, and espe 
cially to see myself in print. I did not appear disinclined. 
They acquainted me with the personal particulars and the 
position of the family; I went somewhat aside, made my 
plan, and produced some stanzas. However, when I returned 
to the company, and the wine was not spared, the poem 
began to halt, and I could not deliver it that evening. 
"There is still time till to-morrow evening," they said; 
" and we will confess to you that the fee which we receive 
for the dirge is enough to get us another pleasant evening 
to-morrow. Come to us; for it is but fair that Gretchen 
too should sup with us, as it was she properly who gave us 
the notion." My joy was unspeakable. On my way home 
I had only the remaining stanzas in my head, wrote down the 
whole before I went to sleep, and the next morning made a 
very neat fair copy. The day seemed infinitely long to me ; 
and scarcely was it dusk, than I found myself again in the 
narrow little dwelling beside the dearest of girls. 

The young persons with whom in this way I formed a 
closer and closer connexion were not properly low, but 
ordinary sort of people. Their activity was commendable, and 

* That is to say, a poem written for a certain occasion, as a wedding 1 , 
faneral, &c. The German word is " Gelegenheitsgedicht." Trans. 



GRETCHEN AND HER FRIENDS. 143 

I listened to them with pleasure when they spoke of the mani 
fold ways and means by which one could gain a living ; above 
all they loved to tell of people, now very rich, who had begun 
with nothing. Others to whom they referred had, as poor 
clerks, rendered themselves indispensable to their employers, 
and had finally risen to be their sons-in-law : while others had 
so enlarged and improved a little trade in matches and the 
like, that they were now prosperous merchants and tradesmen. 
But above all, to young men, who were active on their feet, 
the trade of agent and factor, and the undertaking of all sorts 
of commissions and charges for helpless rich men was, they 
said, a most profitable means of gaining a livelihood. We all 
heard this eagerly, and each one fancied himself somebody, 
when he imagined, at the moment, that there was enough in 
him, not only to get on in the world, but to acquire an extra 
ordinary fortune. But no one seemed to carry on this conver 
sation more earnestly than Pylades, who at last confessed that 
he had an extraordinary passion for a girl, and was actually 
engaged to her. The circumstances of his parents would not 
allow him to go to universities, but he had endeavoured to 
acquire a fine handwriting, a knowledge of accounts, and the 
modern languages, and would now do his best in hopes of 
attaining that domestic felicity. The cousins praised him for 
this, although they did not approve of a premature engage 
ment to a girl, and they added, that while forced to acknow 
ledge him to be a fine good fellow, they did not consider him 
active or enterprising enough to do anything extraordinary. 
While he, in vindication of himself, circumstantially set forth 
what he thought himself fit for, and how he was going to begin, 
the others were also incited, and each one began to tell what he 
was now able to do, doing, or carrying on, what he had already 
accomplished, and what he saw immediately before him. The 
turn at last came to me. I was to set forth mv course of life 

/ 

and prospects, and while I was considering, Pylades said, " I 
make this one proviso, if we all would stand on a level, that 
he does not bring into the account the external advantages of 
his position. He should rather tell us a tale how he would 
proceed if at this moment he were thrown entirely upon his 



own resources, as we are." 



Gretchen, who till this moment had kept on spinning, rose 
and seated herself as usual at the end of the table. We had 



144 TRUTH AND POETBY ; FEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

already emptied some bottles, and I began to relate the hypo 
thetical history of my life in the best humour. " First of all, 
then, I commend myself to you," said I, " that you may con* 
tinue the custom you have begun to bestow on me. If you gra 
dually procure me the profit of all the occasional poems, and 
we do not consume them in mere feasting, I shall soon come 
to something. But then you must not take it ill if I dabble 
also in your handicraft." Upon this I told them what I had 
observed in their occupations, and for which I held myself fit 
at any rate. Each one had previously rated his services in 
money, and I asked them to assist me also in completing my 
establishment. Gretchen had listened to all hitherto very 
attentively, and that in a position which well suited her, 
whether she chose to hear or to speak. With both hands she 
clasped her folded arms, and rested them on the edge of the 
table. Thus she could sit a long while without moving any 
thing but her head, which was never done without occasion or 
meaning. She had several times put in a word and helped us 
on over this and that, when we halted in our projects, and 
then was again still and quiet as usual. I kept her in my eye, 
and it may readily be supposed that I had not devised and 
uttered my plan without reference to her. My passion for her 
gave to what I said such an air of truth and probability, that 
for a moment I deceived myself, imagined myself as lonely and 
helpless as my story supposed, and felt extremely happy in 
the prospect of possessing her. Pylades had closed his con 
fession with marriage, and the question arose among the rest 
of us, whether our plans went as far as that. " I have not 
the least doubt on that score," said I, " for properly a wife is 
necessary to every one of us, in order to preserve at home and 
enable us to enjoy as a whole what we rake together abroad 
in such an odd way." I then made a sketch of a wife, such 
as I wished, and it must have turned out strangely if she had 
not been a perfect counterpart of Gretchen. 

The dirge was consumed ; the epithalamium now stood be 
neficially at hand ; I overcame all fear and care, and contrived, 
as I had many acquaintances, to conceal my actual evening 
entertainments from my family. To see and to be near the 
dear girl was soon an indispensable condition of my being. 
The friends had grown just as accustomed to me, and we were 
almost daily together, as if it could not be otherwise. Pylades 



THE HOCHST MARKET- SHIP. 145 

had, in the meantime, introduced his fair one into the house, 
and this pair passed many an evening with us. They, as bride 
and bridegroom, though still very much in the bud, did not 
conceal their tenderness ; Gretchen s deportment towards me 
was only suited to keep me at a distance. She gave her hand 
to no one, not even to me ; she allowed no touch ; yet she 
many times seated herself near me, particularly when I wrote or 
read aloud, and then laying her arm familiarly upon my shoul 
der, she looked over the book or paper. If, however, I ventured 
on a similar freedom towards her, she withdrew, and would 
not soon return. This position she often repeated, and indeed all 
her attitudes and motions were very uniform, but always equally 
fitting, beautiful, and charming. But such a familiarity I never 
saw her practise towards anybody else. 

One of the most innocent, and at the same time amusing, 
parties of pleasure in which I engaged with different com 
panies of young people, was this : that we seated ourselves in 
the Hochst market-ship, observed the strange passengers packed 
away in it, and bantered and teased, now this one, now that, 
as pleasure or caprice prompted. At Hochst we got out at 
the same time as the market-boat from Mentz arrived. At a 
hotel there was a well-spread table, where the better sort of 
travellers, coming and going, ate with each other, and then 
proceeded, each on his way, as both ships returned. Every 
time, after dining, we sailed up to Frankfort, having, with a 
very large company, made the cheapest water- excursion that 
was possible. Once I had undertaken this journey with 
Gretchen s cousins, when a young man joined us at table in 
Hochst, who might be a little older than we were. They knew 
him, and he got himself introduced to me. He had something 
very pleasing in his manner, though he was not otherwise dis 
tinguished. Coming from Mentz, he now went back with us 
to Frankfort, and conversed with me of everything that re 
lated to the internal arrangements of the city, and the public 
offices and places, on which he seemed to me to be very well 
informed. When we separated he bade me farewell, and 
added, that he wished I might think well of him, as he hoped 
on occasion to avail himself of my recommendation. I did not 
know what he meant by this, but the cousins enlightened me 
some days after ; they spoke favourably of him, and requested 
me to intercede with my grandfather, as a middle place was 



146 TETJTH AND POETRY ; FEOM MY OWtf LIFE. 

just now vacant, which this friend would like to obtain. I at 
first excused myself, because I had never meddled in such 
affairs ; but they went on urging me until I resolved to do it. 
I had already many times remarked that, in these grants of 
offices, which unfortunately were often regarded as matters of 
favour, the mediation of my grandmother or an aunt had not 
been without effect. I was now so advanced as to arrogate some 
influence to myself. For that reason, to gratify my friends, 
who declared themselves under every sort of obligation for such 
a kindness, I overcame the timidity of a grandchild, and under 
took to deliver a written application that was handed in to me. 

One Sunday, after dinner, as my grandfather was busy in 
his garden, all the more because autumn was approaching, and 
I tried to assist him on every side, I came forward with my 
request and the petition, after some hesitation. He looked at 
it, and asked me whether I knew the young man. I told him 
in general terms what was to be said, and he let the matter 
rest there. " If he has merit, and moreover good testimonials, 
I will favour him for your sake and his own." He said no 
more, and for a long while I heard nothing of the matter. 

For some time I had observed that Gretchen span no more, 
but on the other hand was employed in sewing, and that, too, 
on very fine work, which surprised me the more, as the days 
were already shortening, and winter was coming on. I thought 
no further about it, only it troubled me that several times I 
had not found her at home in the morning as formerly, and could 
not learn, without importunity, whither she had gone. Yet I 
was destined one day to be surprised in a very odd manner.. 
My sister, who was getting herself ready for a ball, asked me 
to fetch her some so-called Italian flowers, at a fashionable 
milliner s. They were made in convents, and were small and 
pretty ; myrtles especially, dwarf-roses, and the like, came out 
quite beautifully and naturally. I granted her the favour, and 
went to the shop where I had already often been with her; 
Hardly had I entered and greeted the proprietress, than 1 saw 
sitting in the window a lady, who in a lace cap looked veiy 
young and pretty, and in a silk mantilla seemed very well 
shaped. I could easily recognize that she was an assistant, 
for she was occupied in fastening a ribbon and feathers upon a 
hat. The milliner showed me the long box with single flowers 
of various sorts j I looked them over, and as I made my choice 



GKETCHEN S NEW SITUATION. 147 

glanced again towards the lady in the window; but how 
great was my astonishment when I perceived an incredible 
similarity to Gretchen, nay, was forced to be convinced at last 
that it was Gretchen herself. No doubt remained, when she 
winked with her eyes and gave me a sign that I must not be 
tray our acquaintance. I now with my choosing and rejecting 
drove the milliner into despair more than even a lady could 
have done, I had, in fact, no choice, for I was excessively 
confused, and at the same time liked to linger, because it kept 
me near the girl, whose disguise annoyed me, though in that dis 
guise she appeared to me more enchanting than ever. Finally, 
the milliner seemed to lose all patience, and with her own 
hands selected for me a whole bandbox full of flowers, which 
I was to place before my sister and let her choose for herself. 
Thus I was, as it were, driven out of the shop, while she sent 
the box first by one of her girls. 

Scarcely had I reached home than my father caused me 
to be called, and communicated to me that it was now 
quite certain that the Archduke Joseph would be elected and 
crowned King of Rome. An event so highly important was 
not to be expected without preparation, nor allowed to pass 
with mere gaping and staring. He wished, therefore, he said, 
to go through with me the election- and coronation- diaries of 
the two last coronations, as well as through the last capitulations 
of election, in order to remark what new conditions might be 
added in the present instance. The diaries were opened, and 
we occupied ourselves with them the wliole day till far into 
the night, while the pretty girl, sometimes in her old house- 
dress, sometimes in her new costume, ever hovered before me, 
backwards and forwards among the most august objects of the 
Holy Roman Empire. This evening it was impossible to see 
her, and I lay awake through a very restless night. The study 
of yesterday was the next day zealously resumed, and it was 
not till towards evening that I found it possible to visit my 
fair one, whom I met again in her usual house-dress. She 
smiled when she saw me, but I did not venture to mention 
anything before the others. When the whole company sat 
quietly together again, she began and said, " It is unfair that 
you do not confide to our friend what we have lately resolved 
upon." She then continued to relate, that after our late con 
versation, in which the discussion was how any one could get 

L2 



148 TEI7TH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

on in the world, something was also said of the way in which 
a woman could enhance the value of her talent and labour, and 
advantageously employ her time. The cousins had conse 
quently proposed that she should make an experiment at a 
milliner s who was just then in w r ant of an assistant. They 
had, she said, arranged with the woman ; she went there so 
many hours a-day, and was well paid ; only when there she 
was obliged, for propriety s sake, to conform to a certain dress, 
which, however, she left behind her every time, as it did not 
at all suit her other modes of life and employment. I was 
indeed set at rest by this declaration, but it did not quite please 
me to know that the pretty girl was in a public shop, and at a 
place where the fashionable world found a convenient resort. 
But I betrayed nothing, and strove to work off my jealous 
care in silence. For this the younger cousin did not allow me 
a long time, as he once more came forward with a proposal for 
an occasional poem, told me all the personalities, and at once 
desired me to prepare myself for the invention and disposition 
of the work. He had already spoken with me several times 
concerning the proper treatment of such a theme, and as I was 
voluble in these cases, he readily asked me to explain to him 
circumstantially what is rhetorical in these things, to give him 
a notion of the matter, and to make use of my own and others 
labours in this kind for examples. The young man had some 
brains, though he was without a trace of a poetical vein, and now 
he went so much into particulars, and wished to have such an 
account of everything, that I gave utterance to the remark : "It 
seems as if you wanted to encroach upon my trade and steal away 
my customers !" "I will not deny it," said he, smiling, " as 
I shall do you no harm by it. This will only continue to the 
time when you go to the university, and till then you must 
allow me still to profit something by your society." " Most 
cordially," I replied, and I encouraged him to draw out a plan, 
to choose a metre according to the character of his subject, 
and to do whatever else might seem necessary. He went to 
work in earnest, but did not succeed. I was in the end com 
pelled to re-write so much of it, that I could more easily and 
better have written it all from the beginning myself. Yet this 
teaching and learning, this mutual labour, afforded us good 
entertainment : Gretchen took part in it and had many a pretty 
notion, so that we were all pleased, we may indeed say, happy. 



PREPARATIONS FOE THE ELECTION. 149 

During the day she worked at the milliner s : in the evenings 
we generally met together, and our contentment was not even 
disturbed when at last the commissions for occasional poems 
began to leave off. Still we felt hurt once, when one of them 
came back under protest, because it did not stiit the party who 
ordered it. We consoled ourselves, however, as we considered 
it our very best work, and could therefore declare the other a 
bad judge. The cousin, who was determined to learn some 
thing at any rate, resorted to the expedient of inventing pro 
blems, in the solution of which we always found amusement 
enough, but as they brought in nothing, our little banquets 
had to be much more frugally managed. 

That great political object, the election and coronation of a 
King of Rome, was pursued with more and more earnestness. 
The assembling of the electoral college, originally appointed to 
take place at Augsburg in the October of 1 763, was now trans 
ferred to Frankfort, and both at the end of this year and in the 
beginning of the next, preparations went forward, which should 
usher in this important business. The beginning was made by 
a parade never yet seen by us. One of our chancery officials 
on horseback, escorted by four trumpeters likewise mounted, 
and surrounded by a guard of infantry, read in a loud clear 
voice at all the corners of the city, a prolix edict, which an 
nounced the forthcoming proceedings, and exhorted the citi 
zens to a becoming deportment suitable to the circumstances. 
The council was occupied with weighty considerations, and it 
was not long before the Imperial Quarter-Master, despatched 
by the Hereditary Grand Marshal, made his appearance, in 
order to arrange and designate the residences of the ambassa 
dors and their suites, according to the old custom. Our house 
lay in the Palatine district, and we had to provide for a new 
but agreeable billetting. The middle story, which Count Tho- 
rane had formerly occupied, was given up to a cavalier of the 
Palatinate, and as Baron von Konigsthal, the Nuremberg 
charge, d affaires, occupied the upper floor, we were still more 
crowded than in the time of the French. This served me 
as a new excuse to be out of doors, and to pass the greater 
part of the day in the streets, that I might see all that was 
open to public view. 

After the preliminary alteration and arrangement of the 
rooms in the town-house had seemed to us worth seeing, after 



150. TEUTH AND POETKY ; FEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

the arrival of the ambassadors one after another, and their first 
solemn ascent in a body, on the 6th of February, had taken 
place, we admired the coming in of the imperial commissioners, 
and their ascent also to the Homer, which was made with 
great pomp. The dignified person of the PRINCE of LICHT- 
ENSTEIN made a good impression ; yet connoisseurs main 
tained that the showy liveries had already been used on 
another occasion, and that this election and coronation would 
hardly equal in brilliancy that of Charles the Seventh. We 
younger folks were content with what was before our eyes ; 
all seemed to us very fine, and much of it perfectly astonishing. 

The electoral congress was fixed at last for the 3rd of March. 
New formalities again set the city in motion, and the alternate 
visits of ceremony on the part of the ambassadors kept us 
always on our legs. We were compelled, too, to watch closely, 
as we were not only to gape about, but to note everything well, 
in order to give a proper report at home, and even to make out 
many little memoirs, on which my father and Herr von Ko- 
nigsthal had deliberated, partly for our exercise and partly for 
their own information. And certainly this was of peculiar ad 
vantage to me, as I was enabled very tolerably to keep a living 
election- and coronation-diary, as far as regarded externals. 

The person who first of all made a durable impression upon 
me was the chief ambassador from the electorate of Mentz, 
BARON VON ERTHAL, afterwards Elector. Without having 
anything striking in his figure, he was always highly pleasing 
to me in his black gown trimmed with lace. The second am 
bassador, BARON VON GROSCHLAG, was a well-formed man of 
the world, easy in his exterior, but conducting himself with 
great decorum. He everywhere produced a very agreeable 
impression. PRINCE ESTERHAZY, the Bohemian envoy, was 
not tall, though well-formed, lively, and at the same time emi 
nently decorous, without pride or coldness. I had a special 
liking for him, because he reminded me of MARSHAL DE BRO- 
GLIO. Yet the form and dignity of these excellent persons 
vanished, in a certain degree, before the prejudice that was 
entertained in favour of BARON VON PLOTHO, the Branden 
burg ambassador. This man, who was distinguished by a 
certain parsimony, both in his own clothes and in his liveries 
and equipages, had been greatly renowned from the time of the 
seven years war, as a diplomatic hero. At Katisbon, when the 



BAKOtf YON PLOTSO. 151 

Notary April thought, in the presence of witnesses, to serve 
him with the declaration of outlawry which had been issued 
against his king, he had, with the laconic exclamation: 
" What ! you serve ? " thrown him, or caused him to be thrown, 
down stairs. We believed the first, because it pleased us best, 
and we could readily believe it of the little compact man, with 
his black, fiery eyes glancing here and there. All eyes were 
directed towards him, particularly when he alighted. There 
arose every time a sort of joyous whispering, and but little was 
wanting to a regular explosion, or a shout of Vivat ! Bravo ! 
So high did the king, and all who were devoted to him, body 
and soul, stand in favour with the crowd, among whom, besides 
the Frankforters, were Germans from all parts. 

On the one hand these things gave me much pleasure ; as 
all that took place, no matter of what nature it might be, con 
cealed a certain meaning, indicated some internal relation, and 
such symbolic ceremonies again, for a moment, represented 
as living the old Empire of Germany, almost choked to death 
by so many parchments, papers, and books. But, on the other 
hand, I could not suppress a secret displeasure, when I was 
forced, at home, on my father s account, to transcribe the in 
ternal transactions, and at the same time to remark that here 
several powers, which balanced each other, stood in opposition, 
and only so far agreed, as they designed to limit the new ruler 
even more than the old one ; that every one valued his influence 
only so far as he hoped to retain or enlarge his privileges, and 
better to secure his independence. Nay, on this occasion they 
were more attentive than usual, because they began to fear 
Joseph the Second, his vehemence and probable plans. 

With my grandfather and other members of the council, 
whose families I used to visit, this was no pleasant time, they 
had so much to do with meeting distinguished guests, compli 
menting, and the delivery of presents. No less had the magis 
trate, both in general and in particular, to defend himself, to 
resist, and to protest, as every one on such occasions desires 
to extort something from him, or burden him with something, 
and few of those to whom he appeals support him, or lend him 
their aid. In short, all that I had read in Lersner s Chronicles 
of similar incidents on similar occasions, with admiration ot 
the patience and perseverance of those good old councilman, 
came once more vividly before my eyes. 



152 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

Many vexations arise also from this, that the city is gra 
dually overrun with people, both useful and needless. In vain 
are the courts reminded, on the part of the city, of prescrip 
tions of the Golden Bull, now, indeed, obsolete. Not only the 
deputies with their attendants, but many persons of rank, and 
others who come from curiosity or for private objects, stand 
under protection, and the question as to who is to be billetted 
out, and who is to hire his own lodging, is not always decided 
at once. The tumult constantly increases, and even those who 
have nothing to give, or to answer for, begin to feel uncom 
fortable. 

Even we young people, who could quietly contemplate it all, 
ever found something which did not quite satisfy our eyes or 
our imagination. The Spanish mantles, the huge feathered 
hats of the ambassadors, and other objects here and there, had 
indeed a truly antique look ; but there was a great deal, on 
the other hand, so half-new or entirely modern, that the affair 
assumed throughout a motley, unsatisfactory, often tasteless 
appearance. We were very happy to learn, therefore, that 
great preparations were made on account of the journey to 
Frankfort of the Emperor and future King ; that the proceed 
ings of the college of electors, which were based on the last 
electoral capitulation, were now going forward rapidly ; and 
that the day of election had been appointed for the 27th of 
March. Now there was a thought of fetching the insignia of 
the Empire from Nuremberg and Aix-la-Chapelle, and next we 
expected the entrance of the Elector of Mentz, while the 
disputes with his ambassadors about the quartering ever con 
tinued. 

Meanwhile I pursued my clerical labours at home very 
actively, and perceived many little suggestions (monita) which 
came in from all sides, and were to be regarded in the new 
capitulation. Every rank desired to see its privileges gua 
ranteed and its importance increased in this document. Very 
many such observations and desires were, however, put aside ; 
much remained as it was, though the suggestors (monentes) 
received the most positive assurances that the neglect should 
in no wise enure to their prejudice. 

In the meanwhile the office of Imperial Marshal was forced 
to undertake many dangerous affairs ; the crowd of strangers 
increased, and it became more and more difficult to find 



LAYATEK. 153 

lodgings for them. Nor was there unanimity as to the limits 
of the different precincts of the Electors. The magistracy 
wished to keep from the citizens the burdens which they were 
not bound to bear, and thus day and night there were hourly 
grievances, redresses, contests, and misunderstandings. 

The entrance of the Elector of Mentz happened on the 
21st of May. Then began the cannonading, with which for a 
long time we were often to be deafened. This solemnity was 
important in the series of ceremonies ; for all the men whom 
we had hitherto seen, high as they were in rank, were still 
only subordinates ; but here appeared a sovereign, an inde 
pendent prince, the first after the Emperor, preceded and 
accompanied by a large retinue worthy of himself. Of the 
pomp which marked his entrance I should have much to tell, 
if I did not purpose returning to it hereafter, and on an occa 
sion which no one could easily guess. 

What I refer to is this : the same day, LAVATER, on his 
return home from Berlin, came through Frankfort, and saw the 
solemnity. Now, though such worldly formalities could not 
have the least value for him, this procession, with its display 
and all its accessaries, might have been distinctly impressed 
on his very lively imagination ; for, many years afterwards, 
when this eminent but singular man showed me a poetical 
paraphrase of, I believe, the Revelation of St. John, I dis 
covered the entrance of Anti- Christ copied, step by step, 
figure by figure, circumstance by circumstance, from the en 
trance of the Elector of Mentz into Frankfort, in such a 
manner, too, that even the tassels on the heads of the dun- 
coloured horses were not wanting. More can be said on 
this point when I reach the epoch of that strange kind of 
poetry, by which it was supposed that the myths of the Old 
and New Testaments were brought nearer to our view and 
feelings when they were completely travestied into the modern 
style, and clothed with the vestments of present life, whether 
gentle or simple. How this mode of treatment gradually 
obtained favour, will be likewise discussed hereafter; yet 
I may here simply remark that it could not well be car 
ried further than it was by Lavater and his emulators, one 
of these having described the three holy kings riding into 
Bethlehem, in such modern form, that the princes and gen 
tlemen whom Lavater used to visit were not to be mistaken 
as the persons. 



154 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

We will then for the present allow the ELECTOR EMERIC 
JOSEPH to enter the Compostello incognito, so to speak, 
and turn to Gretchen, whom, just as the crowd was dis 
persing, I spied in the crowd, accompanied by Pylades and 
his mistress, the three now seeming to be inseparable. We 
had scarcely come up to each other and exchanged greetings, 
than it was agreed that we should pass the evening together, 
and I kept the appointment punctually. The usual company 
had assembled, and each one had something to relate, to say, 
or to remark -how one had been most struck by this thing 
and another by that. "Your speeches," said Gretchen at 
last, "perplex me even more than the events of the time 
themselves. What I have seen I cannot make out ; and 
should very much like to know what a great deal of it means." 
I replied that it was easy for me to render her this ser 
vice. She had only to say what particularly interested her. 
This she did, and as I was about to explain some points, it 
was found that it would be better to proceed in order. I not 
unskilfully compared these solemnities and functions to a 
play, in which the curtain was let down at will, while the 
actors played on, and was then raised again, so that the spec 
tators could once more, to some extent, take part in the action. 
As now I was very loquacious when I was allowed my 
own way, I related the whole, from the beginning down to 
the time present, in the best order ; and to make the subject 
of my discourse more apparent, did not fail to use the 
pencil and the large slate. Being only slightly interrupted by 
some questions and obstinate assertions of the others, I 
brought my discourse to a close, to the general satisfaction, 
while Gretchen, by her unbroken attention, had highly en 
couraged me. At last she thanked me, and envied, as she said, 
all who were informed of the affairs of this world, and knew 
how this and that came about and what it signified. She 
wished she were a boy, and managed to acknowledge, with 
much kindness, that she was indebted to me for a great deal 
of instruction. " If I were a boy," said she, " we would 
learn something good together at the university." The con 
versation continued in this strain ; she definitively resolved 
to take instruction in French, of the absolute necessity of 
which she had become well aware in the milliner s shop. I 
asked her why she no longer went there ; for during the latter 



APPROACH OF THE ELECTION. 155 

times, not being able to go out much in the evening, I had 
often passed the shop during the day for her sake, merely to 
see her for a moment. She explained that she had not liked 
to expose herself there in these unsettled times. As soon as 
the city returned to its former condition she intended to go 
there again. 

Then the discourse was on the impending day of election. 
I contrived to tell, at length, what was going to happen, and 
how, and to support my demonstrations in detail by drawings 
on the tablet ; for I had the place of conclave, with its altars, 
thrones, seats, and chairs, perfectly before my mind. We 
separated at the proper time, and in a peculiarly comfortable 
frame of mind. 

For, with a young couple who are in any degree harmo 
niously formed by nature, nothing can conduce to a more 
beautiful union than when the maiden is anxious to learn, 
and the youth inclined to teach. There arises from it a well- 
grounded and agreeable relation. She sees in him the creator 
of her spiritual existence, and he sees in her a creature that 
ascribes her perfection, not to nature, not to chance, nor to 
any one-sided inclination, but to a mutual will ; and this reci 
procation is so sweet, that we cannot wonder, if from the days 
of the old and the new** Abelard, the most violent passions, 
and as much happiness as unhappiness, have arisen from such 
an intercourse of two beings. 

With the next day began great commotion in the city, on 
account of the visits paid and returned which now took place 
with the greatest ceremony. But what particularly interested 
me, as a citizen of Frankfort, and gave rise to a great many 
reflections, was the taking of the oath of security (Sicherheit- 
seides) by the council, the military, and the body of citizens, 
not through representatives, but personally, and in mass : first, 
in the great hall of the Eomer, by the magistracy and staff- 
officers ; then in the great square (jPlafe), the Romerberg, by 
all the citizens, according to their respective ranks, grada 
tions, or quarterings ; and lastly by the rest of the military. 
Here one could survey at a single glance the entire common 
wealth, assembled for the honourable purpose of swearing 
security to the head and members of the Empire, and un- 

* The " new Abelard " is St. Preux, in the Nouvette Heloise of Rous 
seau. Trans. 



156 TRUTH AND POETEY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

broken peace during the great work now impending. The 
Electors of Treves and of Cologne had now also arrived in 
person. On the evening before the day of election all 
strangers are sent out of the city, the gates are closed, the 
Jews are confined to their quarter, and the citizen of Frank 
fort prides himself not a little that he alone may be a witness 
of so great a solemnity. 

All that had hitherto taken place was tolerably modern ; 
the highest and high personages moved about only in coaches ; 
but now we were going to see them in the primitive manner on 
horseback. The concourse and rush were extraordinary. I 
managed to squeeze myself into the Homer, which I knew as 
familiarly as a mouse does the private corn-loft, till I reached 
the main entrance, before which the Electors and ambassadors, 
who had first arrived in their state-coaches, and had assem 
bled above, were now to mount their horses. The stately, 
well-trained steeds were covered with richly laced housings, 
and ornamented in every way. The Elector Emeric Joseph, 
a comfortable-looking man, looked well on horseback. Of the 
other two I remember less, excepting that the red princes 
mantles, trimmed with ermine, which we had been accus 
tomed to see only in pictures before, seemed to us very 
romantic in the open air. The ambassadors of the absent 
temporal Electors, with their Spanish dresses of gold bro 
cade, embroidered over with gold, and trimmed with gold 
lace, likewise did our eyes good ; and the large feathers par 
ticularly, that waved most splendidly from the hats, which were 
cocked in the antique style. But what did not please me 
were the short modern breeches, the white silk stockings, 
and the fashionable shoes. We should have liked half-boots 
gilded as much as they pleased sandals, or something of 
the kind, that we might have seen a more consistent costume. 

In deportment the Ambassador Von Plotho again distin 
guished himself from all the rest. He appeared lively and 
cheerful, and seemed to have no great respect for the whole 
ceremony. For when his front-man, an elderly gentleman, 
could not leap immediately on his horse, and he was therefore 
forced to wait some time in the grand entrance, he did not 
refrain from laughing, till his own horse was brought forward, 
upon which he swung himself very dexterously, and w^as again 
admired by us as a most worthy representative of Frederick 
the Second. 



APPROACH OF THE EMPEKOK AND KJNG. 157 

Now the curtain was for us once more let down. I had 
indeed tried to force my way into the church ; but that place 
was more inconvenient than agreeable. The voters had with 
drawn into the sanctum, where prolix ceremonies usurped the 
place of a deliberate consideration as to the election. After 
long delay, pressure, and bustle, the people at last heard the 
name of Joseph the Second, who was proclaimed King of 
Rome. 

The thronging of strangers into the city became greater and 
greater. Everybody went about in his holiday clothes, so 
that at last none but dresses entirely of gold were found 
worthy of note. The Emperor and King had already arrived 
at Heusenstamm, a castle of the Counts of Schonborn, and 
were there in the customary manner greeted and welcomed ; 
but the city celebrated this important epoch by spiritual festi 
vals of all the religions, by high masses and sermons ; and on 
the temporal side by incessant firing of cannon as an accom 
paniment to the Te Deums. 

If all these public solemnities, from the beginning up to 
this point, had been regarded as a deliberate work of art, not 
much to find fault with would have been found. All was well 
prepared. The public scenes opened gradually, and went on 
increasing in importance ; the men grew in number, the per 
sonages in dignity, their appurtenances, as well as themselves, 
in splendour; and thus it advanced with every day, till at 
last even a well-prepared and firm eye became bewildered. 

The entrance of the Elector of Mentz, which we have re 
fused to describe more completely, was magnificent and im 
posing enough to suggest to the imagination of an eminent 
man, the advent of a great prophesied World- Ruler ; even we 
were not a little dazzled by it. But now our expectation was 
stretched to the utmost, as it was said that the Emperor and 
the future King were approaching the city. At a little dis 
tance from Sachsenhausen, a tent had been erected, in which 
the entire magistracy remained, to show the appropriate 
honour, and to proffer the keys of the city to the chief of the 
Empire. Further out, on a fair spacious plain, stood another 
a, state pavilion, whither the whole body of electoral princes 
and ambassadors repaired, while their retinues extended 
along the whole way, that gradually, as their turns came, they 
might again move towards the city, and enter properly into 



158 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

the procession. By this time the Emperor reached the tent, 
entered it, and the princes and ambassadors, after a most 
respectful reception, withdrew, to facilitate the passage of the 
chief ruler. 

We others who remained in the city to admire this pomp 
within the walls and streets, still more than could have been 
done in the open fields, were very well entertained for a while 
by the barricade set up by the citizens in the lanes, by the 
throng of people, and by the various jests and improprieties 
which arose, till the ringing of bells and the thunder of 
cannon announced to us the immediate approach of Majesty. 
What must have been particularly grateful to a Frankforter 
was, that on this occasion, in the presence of so many sove 
reigns and their representatives, the imperial city of Frank 
fort also appeared as a little sovereign ; for her equerry opened 
the procession ; chargers with armorial trappings, upon which 
the white eagle on a red field looked very fine, followed him ; 
then came attendants and officials, drummers and trumpeters, 
and deputies of the council, accompanied by the clerks of the 
council, in the city livery, on foot. Immediately behind 
these were the three companies of citizen cavalry, very well 
mounted the same that we had seen from our youth, at the 
reception of the escort and on other public occasions. We 
rejoiced in our participation of the honour, and in our hundred- 
thousandth part of a sovereignty which now appeared in its 
full brilliancy. The different trains of the Hereditary Imperial 
Marshal, and of the envoys deputed by the six temporal 
Electors, marched after these step by step. None of them 
consisted of less than twenty attendants, and two state-car 
riages some even of a greater number. The retinue of the 
spiritual Electors was ever on the increase, their servants 
and domestic officers seemed innumerable, the Elector of 
Cologne and the Elector of Treves had above twenty state- 
carriages, and the Elector of Mentz quite as many alone. 
The servants, both on horseback and on foot, were clothed 
most splendidly throughout; the lords in the equipages, 
spiritual and temporal, had not omitted to appear richly and 
venerably dressed, and adorned with all the badges of their 
orders. The train of his Imperial Majesty now, as was fit, 
surpassed all the rest. The riding-masters, the led horses, 
the equipages, the shabracks and caparisons, attracted every 



THE IMPERIAL CARRIAGE. 159 

eye, and the sixteen six-horse gala- wagons of the Imperial 
Chamberlains, Privy Councillors, High Chamberlain, High 
Stewards, and High Equerry, closed, with great pomp, this 
division of the procession, which, in spite of its magnificence 
and extent, was still only to be the van-guard. 

But now the line concentrated itself more and more, while 
the dignity and parade kept on increasing. For, in the midst 
of a chosen escort of their own domestic attendants, the most 
of them on foot, and a few on horseback, appeared the Elec 
toral ambassadors as well as the Electors in person, in ascend 
ing order, each one in a magnificent state-carriage. Imme 
diately behind the Elector of Mentz, ten imperial footmen, one 
and forty lackeys, and eight Hey ducks,* announced their Ma 
jesties. The most magnificent state-carriage, furnished even 
at the back part with an entire window of plate-glass, orna 
mented with paintings, lacker, carved work, and gilding, 
covered with red embroidered velvet on the top and inside, 
allowed us very conveniently to behold the Emperor and King, 
the long- desired heads, in all their glory. The procession was 
led a long circuitous route, partly from necessity, that it might 
be able to unfold itself, and partly to render it visible to the 
great multitude of people. It had passed through Sachsen- 
hausen, over the bridge, up the Fahrgasse, then down the 
Zeile, and turned towards the inner city through the Katha- 
rinenpforte, formerly a gate, and since the enlargement of the 
city, an open thoroughfare. Here it had been fortunately 
considered that, for a series of years, the external grandeur of 
the world had gone on expanding both in height and breadth. 
Measure had been taken, and it was found that the present 
imperial state-carriage could not, without striking its carved 
work and other outward decorations, get through this gateway, 
through which so many princes and emperors had gone back 
wards and forwards. The matter was debated, and to avoid 
an inconvenient circuit, it was resolved to take up the pave 
ments, and to contrive a gentle ascent and descent. With the 
same view they had also removed all the projecting eaves from 
the shops and booths in the street, that neither crown, nor eagle, 
nor the genii should receive any shock or injury. 

Eagerly as we directed our eyes to the high personages when 
this precious vessel with such precious contents approached us, 
* A class of attendants dressed in Hungarian costume. -Tram* 



160 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

we could not avoid turning our looks upon the noble horses, 
their harness, and its embroidery ; but the strange coachmen 
and outriders, both sitting on the horses, particularly struck 
us. They looked as if they had come from some other nation, 
or even from another world, with their long black and yellow 
velvet coats, and their caps with large plumes of feathers, after 
the imperial court fashion. Now the crowd became so dense 
that it was impossible to distinguish much more. The Swiss 
guard on both sides of the carriage, the Hereditary Marshal 
holding the Saxon sword upwards in his right hand, the Field- 
Marshals, as leaders of the Imperial Guard, riding behind the 
carriage, the imperial pages in a body, and finally, the Imperial 
Horse-guard (Hatschier garde) itself, in black velvet frocks 
(FlugelrocJc), with all the seams edged with gold, under which 
were red coats and leather- coloured camisoles, likewise richly 
decked with gold ! One scarcely recovered oneself from sheer 
seeing, pointing, and showing, so that the scarcely less splen 
didly clad body-guards of the Electors were barely looked at, 
and we should perhaps have withdrawn from the windows, if 
we had not wished to take a view of our own magistracy, who 
closed the procession in their fifteen two-horse coaches, and 
particularly the clerk of the council, with the city keys on red 
velvet cushions. That our company of city grenadiers should 
cover the rear, seemed to us honourable enough, and we felt 
doubly and highly edified as Germans and as Frankforters by 
this great day. 

We had taken our place in a house which the procession 
had to pass again when it returned from the cathedral. Of 
religious services, of music, of rites and solemnities, of addresses 
and answers, of propositions and readings aloud, there was so 
much in church, choir, and conclave, before it came to the 
swearing of the electoral capitulation, that we had time enough 
to partake of an excellent collation, and to empty several flasks 
to the health of our old and young ruler. The conversation, 
in the meanwhile, as is usual on such occasions, reverted to the 
time past, and there were not wanting aged persons who pre 
ferred that to the present, at least with respect to a certain 
human interest and impassioned sympathy which then pre 
vailed. At the coronation of Francis the First all had not 
been so settled as now ; peace had not yet been concluded ; 
France and the Electors of Brandenburg and the Palatinate 



MARIA THERESA. 161 

were opposed to the election ; the troops of the future emperor 
were stationed at Heidelberg, where he had his head-quarters, 
and the insignia of the Empire coming from Aix, were almost 
carried off by the inhabitants of the Palatinate. Meanwhile 
negotiations went on, and on neither side was the affair con 
ducted in the strictest manner. MARIA THERESA, though 
then pregnant, comes in person to see the coronation of her 
husband, which is at last carried into effect. She arrived at 
Aschaffenburg, and went on board a yacht in order to repair 
to Frankfort. Francis, from Heidelberg, thinks to meet his 
wife, but comes too late; she has already departed. Unknown, 
he throws himself into a little boat, hastens after her, reaches 
her ship, and the loving pair is delighted at this surprising 
meeting. The story spreads immediately, and all the world 
sympathizes with this tender pair, so richly blessed with their 
children, who have been so inseparable since their union, that 
once on a journey from Vienna to Florence they are forced to 
keep quarantine together on the Venetian border. Maria 
Theresa is welcomed in the city with rejoicings, she enters the 
Roman Emperor inn, while the great tent for the reception of 
her husband is erected on the Bornheim heath. There of the 
spiritual Electors is found only Mentz, and of the ambassadors 
of the temporal Electors, only Saxony, Bohemia, and Hanover. 
The entrance begins, and what it may lack of completeness 
and splendour is richly compensated by the presence of a beau 
tiful lady. She stands upon the balcony of the well-situated 
house, and greets her husband with cries of Vivat and clapping 
of hands ; the people joined, excited to the highest enthusiasm. 
As the great are, after all, men, the citizen thinks them his 
equals when he wishes to love them, and that he can best do 
when he can picture them to himself as loving husbands, tender 
parents, devoted brothers, and true friends. At that time all 
happiness had been wished and prophesied, and to-day it was 
seen fulfilled in the first-born son ; to whom everybody was 
well inclined on account of his handsome youthful form, and 
upon whom the world set the greatest hopes, on account of 
the great qualities that he showed. 

We had become quite absorbed in the past and future, when 
some friends who came in recalled us to the present. They 
were of those who know the value of novelty, and therefore 
hasten to announce it first. They were even able to tell of a fine 

M 



162 TRUTH AND POETKY ; FROM MY OAVN LIFE. 

humane trait in those exalted personages whom we had seen 
go by with the greatest pomp. It had been concerted that on 
the way, between Heusenstamm and the great tent, the Empe 
ror and King should find the Landgrave of Darmstadt in the 
forest. This old prince, now approaching the grave, wished 
to see once more the master to whom he had been devoted in 
former times. Both might remember the day when the Land 
grave brought over to Heidelberg the decree of the Electors 
choosing Francis as Emperor, and replied to the valuable pre 
sents he received with protestations of unalterable devotion. 
These eminent persons stood in a grove of firs, and the Land 
grave, weak with old age, supported himself against a pine, to 
continue the conversation, which was not without emotion on 
both sides. The place was afterwards marked in an innocent 
way, and we young people sometimes wandered to it. 

Thus several hours had passed in remembrance of the old 
and consideration of the new, when the procession, though 
curtailed and more compact, again passed before our eyes, and 
we were enabled to observe and mark the detail more closely, 
and imprint it on our minds for the future. 

From that moment the city was in uninterrupted motion ; 
for until each and every one whom it behoved, and of whom it 
was required, had paid their respects to the highest dignities, 
and exhibited themselves one by one, there was no end to the 
marching to and fro, and the court of each one of the high 
persons present could be very conveniently repeated in detail. 

Now, too, the insignia of the Empire arrived. But that no 
ancient usage might be omitted even in this respect, they had 
to remain half a day till late at night in the open field, on 
account of a dispute about territory and escort between the 
Elector of Mentz and the city. The latter yielded, the people 
of Mentz escorted the insignia as far as the barricade, and so 
the affair terminated for this time. 

In these days I did not come to myself. At home I had to 
write and copy ; everything had to be seen ; and so ended the 
month of March, the second half of which had been so rich in 
festivals for us. I had promised Gretchen a faithful and com 
plete account of what had lately happened, and of what was 
to be expected on the coronation- day. This great day ap 
proached ; I thought more how I should tell it to her than of 
what properly was to be told ; all that came under my eyes 



AN EVENING WITH GRETCHEN. 163 

and my pen I merely worked up rapidly for this sole and imme 
diate use. At last I reached her residence somewhat late one 
evening, and was not a little proud to think how my discourse 
on this occasion would be much more successful than the first 
unprepared one. But a momentary incitement often brings 
us, and others through us, more joy than the most deliberate 
purpose can afford. I found, indeed, pretty nearly the same 
company, but there were some unknown persons among them. 
They sat down to play, all except Gretchen and her younger 
cousin, who remained with me at the slate. The dear girl 
expressed most gracefully her delight that she, though a 
stranger, had passed for a citizen on the election-day, and had 
taken part in that unique spectacle. She thanked me most 
warmly for having managed to take care of her, and for hav 
ing been so attentive as to procure her, through Pylades, all 
sorts of admissions by means of billets, directions, friends, and 
intercessions. 

She liked to hear about the jewels of the Empire. I pro 
mised her that we should, if possible, see these together. She 
made some jesting remarks when she learned that the garments 
and crown had been tried on the young king. I knew where 
she would gaze at the solemnities of the coronation- day, and 
directed her attention to everything that was impending, and 
particularly to what might be minutely inspected from her 
place of view. 

Thus we forgot to think about time ; it was already past 
midnight ; and I found that I unfortunately had not the house- 
key with me. I could not enter the house without making 
the greatest disturbance. I communicated my embarrassment 
to her. " After all," said she, " it will be best for the com 
pany to remain together." The cousins and the strangers had 
already had this in mind, because it was not known where 
they would be lodged for the night. The matter was soon 
decided ; Gretchen went to make some coffee, after bringing 
in and lighting a large brass lamp, furnished with oil and 
wick, because the candles threatened to burn out. 

The coffee served to enliven us for several hours, but the 
game gradually slackened; conversation failed; the mother 
slept in the great chair ; the strangers, weary from travelling, 
nodded here and there, and Pylades and his fair one sat in a 
corner. She had laid her head on his shoulder and had gone to 



LnA 

164 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

sleep, and he did not keep long awake. The younger cousin 
sitting opposite to us by the slate, had crossed his arms before 
him, and slept with his face resting upon them. I sat in the 
window-corner, behind the table, and Gretchen by me. We 
talked in a low voice : but at last sleep overcame her also, she 
leaned her head on my shoulder, and sank at once into a slumber. 
Thus I now sat, the only one a\vake, in a most singular posi 
tion, in which the kind brother of death soon put me also to 
rest. I went to sleep, and when I awoke it was already bright 
"day. Gretchen was standing before the mirror arranging her 
little cap : she was more lovely than ever, and when I de 
parted cordially pressed my hands. I crept home by a round 
about w r ay ; for, on the side towards the little Stag -ditch, my 
father had opened a sort of little peep-hole in the wall, not 
without the opposition of his neighbour. This side we avoided 
when we wanted not to be observed by him in coming home. 
My mother, whose mediation always came in well for us, had 
endeavoured to palliate my absence in the morning at breakfast, 
by the supposition that I had gone out early, and I experienced 
no disagreeable effects from this innocent night. 

Taken as a whole, this infinitely various world which sur 
rounded me, produced upon me but a very simple impression. 
I had no interest but to mark closely the outside of the objects, 
no business but that with which I had been charged by my 
father and Herr von Konigsthal, by which, indeed, I perceived 
the inner course of things. I had no liking but for Gretchen, 
and no other view than to see and apprehend all properly, that 
I might be able to repeat it with her, and explain it to her. 
Often when a train was going by, I described it half aloud to 
myself, to assure myself of all the particulars, and to be praised 
by my fair one for this attention and accuracy ; the applause 
and acknowledgments of the others I regarded as a mere 
appendix. 

I was indeed presented to many exalted and distinguished 
persons ; but partly, no one had time to trouble himself about 
others, and partly, older people do not know at once how they 
should converse with a young man and try him. I, on my 
side, was likewise not particularly skilful in adapting myself 
to people. Generally I acquired their favour, but not their 
approbation. Whatever occupied me was completely present 
to me ; but I did not ask whether it might be also suitable to 



THE COKONATION-DAY. 165 

others. I was mostly too lively or too quiet, and appeared 
either importunate or sullen, just as persons attracted or 
repelled me ; and thus I was considered to be indeed full of 
promise, but at the same time was declared eccentric. 

The coronation-day dawned at last, on the 3rd of April, 
1764; the weather was favourable, and everybody was in 
motion. I, with several of my relations and friends, had been 
provided with a good place in one of the upper stories of the 
Homer itself, where we might completely survey the whole. 
We betook ourselves to the spot very early in the morning, and 
from above, as in a bird s-eye view, contemplated the arrange 
ments which we had inspected more closely the day before. 
There was the newly-erected fountain, with two large tubs on 
the left and right, into which the double-eagle on the post was 
to pour from its two beaks white wine on this side and red 
wine on that. There, gathered into a heap, lay the oats ; here 
stood the large wooden hut, in which we had several days since 
seen the whole fat ox roasted and basted on a huge spit before 
a charcoal fire. All the avenues leading out from the Romer, 
and from other streets back to the Homer, were secured on 
both sides by barriers and guards. The great square was gra 
dually filled, and the waving and pressure grew every moment 
stronger and more in motion, as the multitude always, if pos 
sible, endeavoured to reach the spot where some new scene 
arose, and something particular was announced. 

All this time there reigned a tolerable stillness, and when 
the alarm-bells were sounded, all the people seemed struck 
with terror and amazement. What first attracted the atten 
tion of all who could overlook the square from above, was the 
train in which the lords of Aix and Nuremberg brought the 
crown-jewels to the cathedral. These, as palladia, had been 
assigned the first place in the carriage, and the deputies sat 
before them on the back seat with becoming reverence. Now 
the three Electors betake themselves to the cathedral. After 
the presentation of the insignia to the Elector of Mentz, the 
crown and sword are immediately carried to the imperial 
quarters. The further arrangements and manifold ceremonies 
occupied, in the interim, the chief persons, as well as the spec 
tators, in the church, as we other well-informed persons could 
well imagine. 

In the meanwhile before our eyes the ambassadors ascended 



166 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIEE. 

to the Romer, from which the canopy is carried by the under- 
officers into the imperial quarters. The Hereditary Marshal 
COUNT VON PAPPENHEIM instantly mounts his horse ; he was 
a very handsome, slender gentleman, whom the Spanish cos 
tume, the rich doublet, the gold mantle, the high feathered 
hat, and the loose flying hair, became very well. He puts 
himself in motion, and, amid the sound of all the bells, the 
ambassadors follow him on horseback to the quarters of the 
Emperor in still greater magnificence than on the day of elec 
tion. One would have liked to be there too, as indeed on this 
day it would have been altogether desirable to multiply one s- 
self. However, we told each other w r hat was going on there. 
Now the Emperor is putting on his domestic robes, we said, 
a new dress, made after the old Caroliiigian pattern. The 
hereditary officers receive the insignia, and with them get on 
horseback. The Emperor in his robes, the Roman King in the 
Spanish habit, immediately mount their steeds ; and while 
this is done, the endless procession which precedes them has 
already announced them. 

The eye was already wearied by the multitude of richly- 
dressed attendants and magistrates, and by the nobility who, 
in stately fashion, were moving along ; but when the Elec 
toral envoys, the hereditary officers, and at last, under the 
richly- embroidered canopy, borne by twelve Schoffen and 
senators, the Emperor, in romantic costume, and to the left, 
a little behind him, in the Spanish dress, his son, slowly floated 
along on magnificently-adorned horses, the eye was no more 
sufficient for the sight. One would have liked to detain the 
scene, but for a moment, by a magic charm ; but the glory 
passed on without stopping, and the space that was scarcely 
quitted was immediately filled again by the crowd, which 
poured in like billows. 

But now a new pressure took place ; for another approach 
from the market to the Romer gate had to be opened, and a 
road of planks to be bridged over it, on which the train 
returning from the cathedral was to walk. 

What passed within the cathedral, the endless ceremonies 
which precede and accompany the anointing, the crowning, 
the dubbing of knighthood, all this we were glad to hear 
told afterwards by those who had sacrificed much else to be 
present in the church. 



THE CORONATION PROCESSION. 167 

The rest of us, in the interim, partook of a frugal repast ; 
for in this festal day we had to be contented with cold meat. 
But, on the other hand, the best and oldest wine had been 
brought out of all the family-cellars, so that in this respect at 
least we celebrated the ancient festival in ancient style. 

In the square, the sight most worth seeing was now the 
bridge, which had been finished, and covered with orange and 
white cloth ; and we who had stared at the Emperor, first in 
his carriage and then on horseback, were now to admire him 
walking on foot. Singularly enough, the last pleased us the 
most ; for we thought that in this way he exhibited himself 
both in the most natural and in the most dignified manner. 

Older persons, who were present at the coronation of 
Francis the First, related that Maria Theresa, beautiful 
beyond measure, had looked on this solemnity from a bal 
cony window of the Frauenstein house, close to the Romer. 
As her consort returned from the cathedral in his strange 
costume, and seemed to her, so to speak, like a ghost of 
Charlemagne, he had, as if in jest, raised both his hands, and 
shown her the imperial globe, the sceptre, and the curious 
gloves, at which she had broken out into immoderate laugh 
ter, which served for the great delight and edification of the 
crowd, which was thus honoured with a sight of the good and 
natural matrimonial understanding between the most exalted 
couple of Christendom. But when the Empress, to greet her 
consort, waved her handkerchief, and even shouted a loud 
vivat to him, the enthusiasm and exultation of the people was 
raised to the highest, so that there was no end to the cheers 
of joy. 

Now, the sound of bells, and the van of the long train 
which gently made its way over the many-coloured bridge, 
announced that all was done. The attention was greater than 
ever, and the procession more distinct than before, particu 
larly for us, since it now came directly up to us. We saw it, 
as well as the whole of the square, which was thronged with 
people, almost as if on a ground-plan. Only at the end the 
magnificence was too much crowded; for the envoys, the 
hereditary officers, the Emperor and King, under the canopy 
(Baldachin), the three spiritual Electors, who immediately 
followed, the Schoifen and senators, dressed in black, the 
gold embroidered canopy (Himmei\ all seemed only one 



168 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

mass, which moved by a single will, splendidly harmonious, 
and thus stepping from the temple amid the sound of the 
bells, beamed towards us as something holy. 

A politico-religious ceremony possesses an infinite charm. 
We behold earthly majesty before our eyes, surrounded by all 
the symbols of its power ; but while it bends before that of 
heaven, it brings to our minds the communion of both. For 
even the individual can only prove his relationship with the 
Deity by subjecting himself and adoring, 

The rejoicings, which resounded from the market-place, 
now spread likewise over the great square, and a boisterous 
vivat burst forth from thousands upon thousands of throats, 
and doubtless from as many hearts. For this grand festival 
was to be the pledge of a lasting peace, which indeed for 
many a long year actually blessed Germany. 

Several days before, it had been made known by public 
proclamation, that neither the bridge nor the eagle over the 
fountain were to be exposed to the people, and were therefore 
not, as at other times, to be touched. This was done to pre 
vent the mischief inevitable with such a rush of persons. 
But in order to sacrifice in some degree to the genius of the 
mob, persons expressly appointed went behind the procession, 
loosened the cloth from the bridge, wound it up like a flag, 
and threw it into the air. This gave rise to no disaster, but 
to a laughable mishap ; for the cloth unrolled itself in the air, 
and. as it fell, covered a larger or smaller number of persons. 
Those now who took hold of the ends and drew them towards 
themselves, pulled all those in the middle to the ground, en 
veloped them and teased them till they tore or cut themselves- 
through, and everybody, in his own way, had borne off a 
corner of the stuff made sacred by the footsteps of Majesty. 

1 did not long contemplate this rude sport, but hastened 
from my high position, through all sorts of little steps and 
passages, down to the great llomer stairs, where the distin 
guished and majestic mass, which had been stared at from 
the distance, was to ascend in its undulating course. The 
crowd was not great, because the entrances to the council- 
house were well garrisoned, and I fortunately reached at once 
the iron balustrades above. Now the chief personages as 
cended past me, while their followers remained behind in the 
lower arched passages, and I could observe them on the thrice 
broken stairs from all sides, and at last quite close. 



CORONATION CEREMONIES. 169 

Finally both their Majesties came up. Father and son 
were altogether dressed like Menaichim. The Emperor s 
domestic robes, of purple-coloured silk, richly adorned with 
pearls and stones, as well as his crown, sceptre, and imperial 
orb, struck the eye with good effect. For all in them was 
new, and the imitation of the antique was tasteful. He 
moved, too, quite easily in his attire, and his true-hearted, 
dignified face, indicated at once the emperor and the father. 
The young King, on the contrary, in his monstrous articles of 
dress, with the crown-jewels of Charlemagne, dragged himself 
along as if he had been in a disguise, so that he himself, looking 
at his father from time to time, could not refrain from laughing. 
The crown, which it had been necessary to line a great deal, 
stood out from his head like an overhanging roof. The dal- 
matica, the stole, well as they had been fitted and taken in 
by sewing, presented by no means an advantageous appear 
ance. The sceptre and imperial orb excited some admiration ; 
but one would, for the sake of a more princely effect, rather 
have seen a strong form, suited to the dress, invested and 
adorned with it. 

Scarcely were the gates of the great hall closed behind 
these figures, than I hurried to my former place, which being 
already occupied by others, I only regained with some trouble. 

It was precisely at the right time that I again took possession 
of my window ; for the most remarkable part of all that was 
to be seen in public was just about to take place. All the 
people had turned towards the Homer, and a reiterated shout 
of vivat gave us to understand that the Emperor and King, in 
their vestments, were showing themselves to the populace 
from the balcony of the great hall. But they were not alone 
to serve as a spectacle, since another strange spectacle occurred 
before their eyes. First of all, the handsome slender Heredi 
tary Marshal flung himself upon his steed ; he had laid aside 
his sword ; in his right hand he held a silver-handled vessel, 
and a tin spatula in his left. He rode within the barriers to 
the great heap of oats, sprang in, filled the vessel to overflow, 
smoothed it off, and carried it back again with great dignity. 
The imperial stable was now provided for. The Hereditary 
Chamberlain then rode likewise to the spot, and brought back 
a basin with ewer and towel. But more entertaining for the 
spectators was the Hereditary Carver, who came to fetch a 



170 TEUTH AND POETRY; FBOM MY OWN LIFE. 

piece of the roasted ox. He also rode, with a silver dish, 
through the barriers, to the large wooden kitchen, and came 
forth again with his portion covered, that he might go back 
to the Homer. Now it was the turn of the Hereditary Cup 
bearer, who rode to the fountain and fetched wine. Thus 
now was the imperial table furnished, and every eye waited 
upon the Hereditary Treasurer, who was to throw about the 
money. He, too, mounted a fine steed, to the sides of whose 
saddle, instead of holsters, a couple of splendid bags em 
broidered with the arms of the Palatinate, were suspended. 
Scarcely had he put himself in motion than he plunged his 
hands into these pockets, and generously scattered right and 
left gold and silver coins, which on every occasion glittered 
merrily in the air like metallic rain. A thousand hands 
waved instantly in the air to catch the gifts ; but hardly had 
the coins fallen than the crowd tumbled over each other on 
the ground, and struggled violently for the pieces which 
might have reached the earth. As this agitation was con 
stantly repeated on both sides as the giver rode forwards, it 
afforded the spectators a very diverting sight. It was most 
lively at the close, when he threw out the bags themselves, 
and everybody tried to catch this highest prize. 

Their Majesties had retired from the balcony, and another 
offering was to be made to the mob, who, on such occasions, 
would rather steal the gifts than receive them tranquilly and 
gratefully. The custom prevailed, in more rude and uncouth 
times, of giving up to the people on the spot the oats, as 
soon as the Hereditary Marshal had taken away his share, 
the fountain and the kitchen, after the cup-bearer and the 
carver had performed their offices. But this time, to guard 
against all mischief, order and moderation were preserved as 
far as possible. But the old malicious jokes, that when one 
filled a sack with oats another cut a hole in it, with sallies of 
the kind, were revived. About the roasted ox, a serious 
battle on this occasion, as usual, was waged. This could 
only be contested en masse. Two guilds, the butchers and the 
wine-porters, had, according to ancient custom, again stationed 
themselves so that the monstrous roast must fall to one of 
the two. The butchers believed that they had the best right 
to an ox which they provided entire for the kitchen ; the 
wine-porters, on the other hand, laid claim because the 



THE OX AND THE WOODEN KITCHEN. 171 

kitchen was built near the abode of their guild, and because 
they had gained the victory the last time, the horns of the 
captured steer still projecting from the latticed gable- window 
of their guild and meeting-house as a sign of victory. Both 
these companies had very strong and able members ; but which, 
of them conquered this time, I no longer remember. 

But as a festival of this kind must always close with 
something dangerous and frightful, it was really a terrible 
moment when the wooden kitchen itself was made a prize. 
The roof of it swarmed instantly with men, no one knowing 
how they got there, the boards were torn loose, and pitched 
down, so that one could not help supposing, particularly 
at a distance, that each would kill a few of those pressing to 
the spot. In a trice the hut was unroofed, and single indivi 
duals hung to the beams and rafters, in order to pull them 
also out of their joinings ; nay, many floated above upon 
the posts which had been already sawn off below, and the 
whole skeleton, moving backwards and forwards, threatened 
to fall in. Sensitive persons turned their eyes away, and 
everybody expected a great calamity ; but we did not hear of 
any mischief, and the whole affair, though impetuous and 
violent, had passed off happily. 

Everybody knew now that the Emperor and King would 
return from the cabinet, whither they had retired from the 
balcony, and feast in the great hall of the Homer. We had 
been able to admire the arrangements made for it, the day 
before ; and my most anxious wish was, if possible, to look in 
to-day. I repaired, therefore, by the usual path, to the great 
staircase, which stands directly opposite the door of the hall. 
Here I gazed at the distinguished personages who this day 
acted as the servants of the head of the Empire. Forty-four 
counts, all splendidly dressed, passed me, carrying the dishes 
from the kitchen, so that the contrast between their dignity and 
their occupation might well be bewildering to a boy. The 
crowd was not great, but, considering the little space, suffi 
ciently perceptible. The hall-door was guarded, while those 
who \vere authorised went frequently in and out. I saw one 
of the Palatine domestic officials, whom I asked whether he 
could not take me in with him. He did not deliberate 
long, but gave me one of the silver vessels he just then bore, 
which he could do so much the more as I was neatly clad ; 



172 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

and thus I reached the sanctuary. The Palatine buffet stood 
to the left, directly by the door, and with some steps I placed 
myself on the elevation of it, behind the barriers. 

At the other end of the hall, immediately by the windows, 
raised on the steps of the throne, and under canopies, sat the 
Emperor and King in their robes ; but the crown and sceptre 
lay at some distance behind them on gold cushions. The 
three spiritual Electors, their buffets behind them, had taken 
their places on single elevations ; the Elector of Mentz oppo 
site their Majesties, the Elector of Treves at the right, and 
the Elector of Cologne at the left. This upper part of the 
hall was imposing and cheerful to behold, and excited the 
remark that the spiritual power likes to keep as long as pos 
sible with the ruler. On the contrary, the buffets and tables 
of all the temporal Electors, which were, indeed, magni 
ficently ornamented, but without occupants, made one think 
of the misunderstanding which had gradually arisen for cen 
turies between them and the head of the Empire. Their 
ambassadors had already withdrawn to eat in a side-chamber ; 
and if the greater part of the hall assumed a sort of spectral 
appearance, by so many invisible guests being so magnifi 
cently attended, a large unfurnished table in the middle was 
still more sad to look upon ; for there also many covers stood 
empty, because all those who had certainly a right to sit 
there had, for appearance sake, kept away, that on the greatest 
day of honour they might not renounce any of their honour, 
if, indeed, they were then to be found in the city. 

Neither my years nor the mass of present objects allowed 
me to make many reflections. I strove to see all as much as 

h, 

possible ; and when the dessert was brought in and the am 
bassadors re-entered to pay their court, I sought the open air, 
and contrived to refresh myself with good friends in the 
neighbourhood, after a day s half-fasting, and to prepare for 
the illumination in the evening. 

This brilliant night I purposed celebrating in a right 
hearty way; for I had agreed with Gretchen, and Pylades 
and his mistress, that we should meet somewhere at nightfall. 
The city was already resplendent at every end and corner 
when I met my beloved. I offered Gretchen my arm ; we 
went from one quarter to another, and found ourselves very 
happy in each other s society. The cousins at first were also 



THE ILLUMINATIONS. 173 

of our party, but were afterwards lost in the multitude of 
people. Before the houses of some of the ambassadors, where 
magnificent illuminations were exhibited (those of the Elec 
tor-Palatine were pre-eminently distinguished), it was as 
clear as day. Lest I should be recognised, I had disguised 
myself to a certain extent, and Gretchen did not find it amiss. 
We admired the various brilliant representations and the 
fairy-like structures of flame by which each ambassador strove 
to outshine the others. But Prince Esterhazy s arrangements 
surpassed all the rest. Our little company were in raptures 
both with the invention and the execution, and we were just 
about to enjoy this in detail, when the cousins again met us, 
and spoke to us of the glorious illumination with which the 
Brandenburg ambassador had adorned his quarters. We 
were not displeased at taking the long way from the Ross- 
markt (Horse-market) to the Saalhof ; but found that we had 
been villanously hoaxed. 

The Saalhof is, towards the Maine, a regular and handsome 
structure, but the part in the direction of the city is exceed 
ingly old, irregular, and unsightly. Small windows, agreeing 
neither in form nor size, neither in a line nor placed at equal 
distances, gates and doors arranged without symmetry, a 
ground-floor mostly turned into shops, it forms a confused 
outside, which is never observed by any one. Now here this 
accidental, irregular, unconnected architecture had been fol 
lowed, and every window, every door, every opening, was 
surrounded by lamps ; as indeed can be done with a well- 
built house ; but here the most wretched and ill-formed of 
all fagades was thus quite incredibly placed in the clearest 
light. Did one amuse oneself with this as with the jests 
of the Pagliasso, ^ though not without scruple, since everybody 
must recognise something intentional in it; -just as people 
Iiad before glossed over the previous external deportment of 
Von Plotho, so much prized in other respects, and when once 
inclined towards him, had admired him as a wag, who, like 
his king, would place himself above all ceremonies one 
nevertheless gladly returned to the fairy kingdom of Ester- 
hazy. 

This eminent envoy, to honour the day, had quite passed 
over his own unfavourably situated quarters, and in their 

* A sort of buffoon. 



174 TBUTH AND POETRY ; FHOM ]\IY OWN LIFE. 

stead had caused the great esplanade of linden-trees in the 
Horse-market to be decorated in the front with a portal illu 
minated with colours, and at the back with a still more mag 
nificent prospect. The entire enclosure was marked by lamps. 
Between the trees stood pyramids and spheres of light, upon 
transparent pedestals ; from one tree to another were stretched 
glittering garlands, on which floated suspended lights. In 
several places bread and sausages were distributed among the 
people, and there was no want of wine. 

Here now, four abreast, we walked very comfortably up 
and down, and I, by Gretchen s side, fancied that I really 
wandered in those happy Elysian fields where they pluck 
from the trees crystal cups that immediately fill themselves 
with the wine desired, and shake down fruits that change into 
every dish at will. At last we also felt such a necessity, and 
conducted by Pylades, we found a neat, well-arranged eating- 
house. When we encountered no more guests, since every 
body was going about the streets, we were all the better 
pleased, and passed the greatest part of the night most hap 
pily and cheerfully, in the feeling of friendship, love, and 
attachment. When I had accompanied Gretchen as far as 
her door, she kissed me on the forehead. It was the first and 
last time that she granted me this favour ; for, alas, I was not 
to see her again. 

The next morning, while I was yet in bed, my mother 
entered, in trouble and anxiety. It was easy to see when she 
was at all distressed. " Get up," she said, " and prepare 
yourself for something unpleasant. It has come out that you 
frequent very bad company, and have involved yourself in 
very dangerous and bad affairs. Your father is beside himself, 
and we have only been able to get thus much from him, that 
he will investigate the affair by means of a third party. Re 
main in your chamber and await what may happen. Councillor 
Schneider will come to you ; he has the commission both 
from your father and from the authorities ; for the matter is 
already prosecuted, and may take a very bad turn." 

I saw that they took the affair for much worse than it was ; 
yet I felt myself not a little disquieted, even if only the actual 
state of things should be detected. My old Messiah-loving friend 
finally entered, with the tears standing in his eyes ; he took 
me by the arm, and said, " I am heartily sorry to come to you 



GOETHE IN TROUBLE. 175 

on such an affair. I could not have supposed that you could 
go astray so far. But what will not wicked companions and 
bad example do ! Thus can a young inexperienced man be 
led step by step into crime!" " I am conscious of no crime," 
I replied, " and as little of having frequented bad company." 
" The question now is not one of defence/ said he, interrupt 
ing me, " but of investigation, and on your part of an upright 
confession." " What do you want to know ?" retorted I. He 
seated himself, drew out a paper, and began to question me : 
" Have you not recommended N. N. to your grandfather as a 
candidate for the * * place?" I answered, "Yes." " Where 
did you become acquainted with him ?" " In my walks." " In 
what company ?" I started : for I would not willingly betray 
my friends. " Silence will not do now," he continued, " for 
all is sufficiently known." " What is known then ?" said I. 
" That this man has been introduced to you by others like him 
in fact, by * * *." Here he named three persons whom I 
had never seen nor known : which I immediately explained to 
the questioner. " You pretend," he resumed, " not to know 
these men, and have yet had frequent meetings with them." 
" Not in the least," I replied ; " for, as I have said, except the 
first, I do not know one of them, and even him I have never 
seen in a house." " Have you not often been in * * * street ?" 
" Never," I replied. This was not entirely conformable to the 
truth. I had once accompanied Pylades to his sweetheart, 
who lived in that street ; but we had entered by the back-door, 
and remained in the summer-house. I therefore supposed that 
I might permit myself the subterfuge, that I had not been in 
the street itself. 

The good man put more questions, all of which I could an 
swer with a denial : for of all that he wished to learn I knew 
nothing. At last he seemed to become vexed, and said, " You 
repay my confidence and good- will very badly ; I come to save 
you. You cannot deny that you have composed letters for 
these people themselves or for their accomplices, have furnished 
them writings, and have thus been accessory to their evil acts ; 
for the question is of nothing less than of forged papers, false 
wills, counterfeit bonds, and things of the sort. I come not 
only as a friend of the family, I come in the name and by order 
of the magistrates, who, in consideration of your connexions 
and youth, would spare you and some other young persons. 



176 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

who, like you, have been lured into the net." It was strange 
to me that among the persons he named, none of those with 
whom I had been intimate were found. The circumstances 
touched, without agreeing, and I could still hope to save my 
young friends. But the good man grew more and more urgent. 
I could not deny that I had come home late many nights, that 
I had contrived to have a house-key made, that I had been 
seen at public places more than once with persons of low rank 
and suspicious looks, that some girls were mixed up in the 
affair ; in short, everything seemed to be discovered but the 
names. This gave me courage to persist steadfastly in my 
silence. " Do not," said my excellent friend, " let me go away 
from you ; the affair allows of no delay ; immediately after me 
another will come, who will not grant you so much scope. Do 
not make the matter, which is bad enough, worse by your 
obstinacy." 

I represented very vividly to myself the good cousins, and 
particularly Gretchen : I saw them arrested, tried, punished, 
disgraced, and then it went through my soul like a flash of 
lightning, that the cousins, though they always observed in 
tegrity towards me, might have engaged in such bad affairs, 
at least the oldest, who never quite pleased me, who came 
home later and later, and had little to tell of a cheerful sort. 
Still I kept back my confession. " Personally," said I, " I am 
conscious of nothing evil, and can rest satisfied on that side, 
but it is not impossible that those with whom I have associated 
may have been guilty of some daring or illegal act. They may 
be sought, found, convicted, punished ; I have hitherto nothing 
to reproach myself with ; and will not do any wrong to those 
who have behaved well and kindly to me." He did not let 
me finish, but exclaimed with some agitation, " Yes, they will 
be found out. These villains met in three houses. (He named 
the streets, he pointed out the houses, and, unfortunately, 
among them was the one to which I used to go.) The first 
nest is already broken up, and at this moment so are the two 
others. In a few hours the whole will be clear. Avoid, by a 
frank confession., a judicial inquiry, a confrontation, and all 
other disagreeable matters." The house was known and marked. 
Now I deemed silence useless ; nay, considering the innocence 
of our meetings, I could hope to be still more useful to them 
than to myself. " Sit down/ I exclaimed, fetching him back 



GOETHE S DISTRESS. 177 

from the door ; "I will tell all, and at once lighten your heart 
and mine ; only one thing I ask ; henceforth let there be no 
doubt of my veracity." 

I soon told my friend the whole progress of the affair, 
and was, at first, calm and collected ; but the more I brought 
to mind and pictured to myself the persons, objects, and 
events, so many innocent pleasures and charming enjoyments, 
and was forced to depose as before a criminal court, the more 
did the most painful feeling increase, so that at last I burst 
forth in tears and gave myself up to unrestrained passion. The 
family friend, who hoped that now the real secret was coming 
to light (for he regarded my distress as a symptom that I was 
on the point of confessing with repugnance something mon 
strous), sought to pacify me, as with him the discovery was the 
all-important matter. In this he only partly succeeded, but 
so far, however, that I could eke out my story to the end. 
Though satisfied of the innocence of the proceedings, he was 
still doubtful to some extent, and put further questions to me, 
which excited me afresh, and transported me with pain and 
rage. I asserted, finally, that I had nothing more to say, and 
well knew that I need fear nothing, for I was innocent, of a 
good family, and well reputed ; but that they might be just as 
guiltless without having it recognised, or being otherwise fa 
voured. I declared at the same time, that if they were not 
spared like myself, that if their follies were not regarded with 
indulgence, and their faults pardoned, that if anything in the 
least harsh or unjust happened to them, I would do myself a 
mischief, and no one should prevent me. In this, too, my 
friend tried to pacify me ; but I did not trust him, and was, 
when he quitted me at last, in a most terrible state. I now 
reproached myself for having told the affair, and brought all 
the positions to light. I foresaw that our childish actions, 
our youthful inclinations and confidences, might be quite dif 
ferently interpreted, and that I might perhaps involve the 
excellent Pylades in the matter, and render him very unhappy. 
All these images pressed vividly one after the other before my 
soul, sharpened and spurred my distress, so that I did not 
know what to do for sorrow. I cast myself at full length 
upon the floor, and moistened it with my tears. 

I know not how long I might have lain, when my sister 
entered, was frightened at my gestures, and did all that she 

IT 



178 TETJTH AND POETBY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

could to raise me up. She told me that a person connected 
with the magistracy had waited below with my father for the 
return of the family friend, and that after they had been 
closeted together for some time, both the gentlemen had de 
parted, had talked to each other with apparent satisfaction, 
and had even laughed. She believed that she had heard the 
words " It is all right ; the affair is of no consequence." 
" Indeed !" I broke out, " the affair is of no consequence for 
me, for us ; for I have committed no crime, and if I had, they 
would contrive to help me through : but the others, the others," 
I cried, " who will stand by them !" 

My sister tried to comfort me by circumstantially arguing 
that if those of higher rank were to be saved, a veil must also 
be cast over the faults of the more lowly. All this was of no 
avail. She had scarcely left than I again abandoned myself 
to my grief, and ever recalled alternately the images both of 
my affection and passion and of the present and possible mis 
fortune. I repeated to myself tale after tale, saw only unhap- 
piness following unhappiness, and did not fail in particular 
to make Gretchen and myself truly wretched. 

The family friend had ordered me to remain in my room, 
and have nothing to do with any one but the family. This 
was just what I wanted, for I found myself best alone. My 
mother and sister visited me from time to time, and did not 
fail to assist me vigorously with all sorts of good consola 
tion ; nay, even on the second day they came in the name of 
my father, who was now better informed, to offer me a perfect 
amnesty, which indeed I gratefully accepted ; but the proposal 
that I should go out with him and look at the insignia of the 
Empire, which were now exposed to the curious, I stubbornly 
rejected, and I asserted that I wanted to know nothing either 
of the world or of the Roman Empire till I was informed how 
that distressing affair, which for me could have no further con 
sequences, had turned out for my poor acquaintance. They 
had nothing to say on this head, and left me alone. Yet the 
next day some further attempts were made to get me out of 
the house and excite in me a sympathy for the public cere 
monies. In vain ! neither the great gala-day, nor what hap 
pened on the occasion of so many elevations of rank, nor the 
public table of the Emperor and King, in short, nothing could 
more me. The Elector of the Palatinate might come and wait 



GOETHE S ILLNESS. 179 

on both their Majesties ; these might visit the Electors ; the 
last electoral sitting might be attended for the despatch of 
business in arrear, and the renewal of the electoral union ; 
nothing could call me forth from my passionate solitude. I 
let the bells ring for the rejoicings, the Emperor repair to the 
Capuchin church, the Electors and Emperor depart, without 
on that account moving one step from my chamber. The final 
cannonading, immoderate as it might be, did not arouse me, 
and as the smoke of the powder dispersed, and the sound died 
away, so had all this glory vanished from my soul. 

I now experienced no satisfaction but in chewing the cud 
of my misery, and in a thousandfold imaginary multiplication 
of it. My whole inventive faculty, my poetry and rhetoric, 
had cast themselves on this diseased spot, and threatened, pre 
cisely by means of this vitality, to involve body and soul into 
an incurable disorder. In this melancholy condition nothing 
more seemed to me worth a desire, nothing worth a wish. An 
infinite yearning, indeed, seized me at times to know how it 
had gone with my poor Mends and my beloved, what had 
been the result of a stricter scrutiny, how far they were im 
plicated in those crimes, or had been found guiltless. This 
also I circumstantially painted to myself in the most various 
ways, and did not fail to hold them as innocent and truly un 
fortunate. Sometimes I longed to see myself freed from this 
uncertainty, and wrote vehemently threatening letters to the 
family friend, insisting that he should not withhold from me 
the further progress of the affair, Sometimes I tore them up 
again, from the fear of learning my unhappiness quite distinctly, 
and of losing the principal consolation with which hitherto I 
had alternately tormented and supported myself. 

Thus I passed both day and night in great disquiet, in raving 
and lassitude, so that I felt happy at last when a bodily illness 
seized me with considerable violence, when they had to call in 
the help of a physician, and think of every way to quiet me. 
They supposed that they could do it generally by the sacred 
assurance that all who were more or less involved in the guilt 
had been treated with the greatest forbearance, that my nearest 
friends, being as good as innocent, had been dismissed with a 
slight reprimand, and that Gretchen had retired from the city 
and had returned to her own home. They lingered the most 

K 2 



180 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

over this last point, and I did not take it in the best part ; for 
I could discover in it, not a voluntary departure, but only a 
shameful banishment. My bodily and mental condition was 
not improved by this ; my distress now first really began, and 
I had time enough to torment myself by picturing the strangest 
romance of sad events, and an inevitably tragical catastrophe. 



PAET THE SECOND. 



WHATEVER ONE WISHES IN YOUTH : IN AGE ONE HAS ABUNDANCE. 



SIXTH BOOK. 

THUS was I driven alternately to assist and to retard my 
recovery, and a certain secret chagrin was now added to my 
other sensations ; for I plainly perceived that I was watched, 
that they were loth to hand me any sealed paper without 
taking notice what effect it produced whether I kept it 
secret whether I laid it down open, and the like. I there 
fore conjectured that Pylades, or one of the cousins, or even 
Gretchen herself, might have attempted to write to me, either 
to give or to obtain information. In addition to my sorrow, 
I was now for the first time thoroughly cross, and had again 
fresh opportunities to exercise my conjectures, and to mislead 
myself into the strangest combinations. 

It was not long before they gave me a special overseer. 
Fortunately, it was a man whom I loved and valued. He 
had held the place of tutor in the family of one of our friends ; 
and his former pupil had gone alone to the university. He 
often visited me in my sad condition, and they at last found 
nothing more natural than to give him a chamber next to 
mine, as he was then to employ me, pacify me, and, as I 
marked, keep his eye upon me. Still, as I esteemed him 
from my heart, and had already confided many things to him, 
though not my affection for Gretchen, I determined so much 
the more to be perfectly candid and straightforward with him, 
as it was intolerable to me to live in daily intercourse with 
any one, and at the same time to stand on an uncertain, unplea 
sant footing with him. It was not long, then, before I spoke 
to him about the affair, refreshed myself by the relation and 
repetil ion of the minutest circumstances of my past happiness, 
and thus gained so much, that he, like a sensible man, saw it 
would be better to make me acquainted with the issue of the 
story, and that too in its details and particulars, so that 



182 TTUTTH AND POETRY ; FEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

I might be clear as to the whole, and that with earnestness and 
zeal, I might be persuaded of the necessity of composing 
myself, throwing the past beliind me, and beginning a new 
life. First he confided to me who the other young people of 
quality were who had allowed themselves to be seduced, at 
the outset, into daring hoaxes, then into sportive breaches of 
police, afterwards into frolicsome impositions on others, and 
other such dangerous matters. Thus actually had arisen a 
little conspiracy, which unprincipled men had joined, who, 
by forging papers and counterfeiting signatures, had perpe 
trated many criminal acts, and had still more criminal mat 
ters in preparation. The cousins, after whom I at last impa 
tiently inquired, had been found to be quite innocent, only very 
generally acquainted with those others, and not at all implicated 
with them. My client, by recommending whom to my grand 
father I had in fact put people on the scent, was one of the 
worst, and had sued for that office chiefly that he might un 
dertake or conceal certain villanies. After all this, I could at 
last contain myself no longer, and asked what had become of 
Gretchen, for whom I, once for all, confessed the strongest 
attachment. My friend shook his head and smiled, " Make 
yourself easy," replied he ; " this girl has passed her exami 
nation very well, and has borne off honourable testimony to 
that effect. They could discover nothing in her but what was 
good and amiable, the examiners themselves were well-disposed 
to her, and could not refuse her desire of removing from the 
city. Even what she has confessed in respect to you, too, 
my friend, does her honour ; I have read her deposition in the 
secret reports myself, and seen her signature." "The signa 
ture ! exclaimed I, " which makes me so happy and so 
miserable. What has she confessed, then? What has she 
subscribed ? My friend delayed answering ; but the cheer 
fulness of his face showed me that he concealed nothing dan 
gerous. " If you must know, then," replied he at last, 4k when 
she was interrogated concerning you, and her intercourse 
with you, she said quite frankly, k I cannot deny that I have 
seen him often and with pleasure ; but I have always treated 
him as a child, and my affection for him was truly that of a 
sister. In many cases I have given him good advice, and 
instead of instigating him to any equivocal action, I have hin 
dered him from taking part in wanton tricks, which might 
have brought him into trouble. 



CHANGE OE FEELING TOWARDS GRETCHEN. 183 

My Mend still went on making Gretchen speak like a 
governess ; but I had already for some time ceased to listen to 
him ; for I was terribly affronted that she had set me down 
in the reports as a child, and believed myself at once cured of 
all passion for her. I even hastily assured my friend that all 
was now over. I also spoke no more of her, named her no 
more ; but I could not leave off the bad habit of thinking about 
her, and of recalling her form, her air, her demeanour, though 
now, in fact, all appeared to me in quite another light. I felt 
it intolerable that a girl, at the most only a couple of years 
older than me, should regard me as a child, wiiile I conceived 
I passed with her for a very sensible and clever youth. Her 
cold and repelling manner, which had before so charmed me, 
now seemed to me quite repugnant ; the familiarities which 
she had allowed herself to take with me, but had not 
permitted me to return, were altogether odious. Yet all 
would have been well enough for me, if by subscribing that 
poetical love-letter, in which she had confessed a formal 
attachment to me, she had not given me a right to regard her 
as a sly and selfish coquette. Her masquerading it at the 
milliner s, too, no longer seemed to me so innocent ; and I 
turned these annoying reflections over and over within myself 
until I had entirely stripped her of all her amiable qualities. 
My judgment was convinced, and I thought I must cast her 
away ; but her image ! her image gave me the lie as often 
as it again hovered before me, which indeed happened often 
enough. 

Nevertheless, this arrow with its barbed hooks was torn 
out of my heart, and the question then was, how the inward 
sanative power of youth could be brought to one s aid? I 
really put on the man ; and the first thing instantly laid aside 
was the weeping and raving, which I now regarded as childish 
in the highest degree. A great stride for the better ! For I 
had often, half the night through, given myself up to this grief, 
with the greatest violence, so that at last, from my tears and 
sobbing, 1 came to such a point that I could scarce swallow 
any more, the pleasure of eating and drinking became painful 
to me, and my breast, which was so nearly concerned, seemed 
to suffer. The vexation which 1 had constantly felt since the 
discovery, made me banish every weakness. I found it frightful, 
that I had sacrificed sleep, repose and health, for the sake of 



184 THUTH AND POETRY; THOM MY OWN LIFE. 

a girl who was pleased to consider me a babe, and to imagine 
herself, with respect to me, something very much like a nurse. 
These depressing reflections, as 1 was soon convinced, were 
only to be banished by activity ; but of what was I to take 
hold ? I had, indeed, much to make up for in many things, 
and to prepare myself, in more than one sense, for the univer 
sity, which I was now to attend ; but I relished and accom 
plished nothing. Much appeared to me familiar and trivial ; 
for grounding myself, in several respects, I found neither 
strength within nor opportunity without ; and I therefore suf 
fered myself to be moved by the taste of my good room- 
neighbour, to a study which was altogether new and strange 
to me, and which for a long time offered me a wide field of 
information and thought. My friend began, namely, to make 
me acquainted with the secrets of philosophy. He had studied 
in Jena, under Danes, and, possessing a well-regulated mind, 
had acutely seized the relations of that doctrine, which he 
now sought to impart to me. But, unfortunately, these 
things would not hang together in such a fashion in my brain. 
I put questions, which he promised to answer afterwards ; I 
made demands, which he promised to satisfy in future. But 
our most important difference was this, that I maintained a 
separate philosophy was not necessary, as the whole of it was 
already contained in religion and poetry. This he would by 
no means allow, but rather tried to prove to me that these 
must first be founded on philosophy ; which I stubbornly 
denied, and at every step in the progress of our discussions, 
found arguments for my opinion. For, as in poetry a certain 
faith in the impossible, and as in religion a like faith in the 
inscrutable, must have a place, the philosophers appeared to 
me to be in a very false position who would demonstrate and 
explain both of them from their own field of vision. Besides, 
it was very quickly proved, from the history of philosophy, 
that one always sought a ground different from that of the 
other, and that the sceptic, in the end, pronounced them all 
groundless and useless. 

However, this very history of philosophy, which my friend 
was compelled to go over with me, because I could learn 
nothing from dogmatical discourse, amused me very much, 
but only on this account, that one doctrine or opinion seemed 
to me as good as another, so far, at least, as I was capable of 



HISTOEY OF PHILOSOPHY. 185 

penetrating into it. "With the most ancient men and schools I 
was best pleased, because poetry, religion, and philosophy were 
completely combined into one ; and I only maintained that first 
opinion of mine with the more animation, when the book of Job 
and the Song and Proverbs of Solomon, as well as the lays of 
Chrpheus and Hesiod, seemed to bear valid witness in its favour. 
My friend had taken the smaller work of Brucker as the foun 
dation of his discourse ; and the further we went on, the less 
I could make of it. I could not clearly see what the first 
Greek philosophers would have. Socrates I esteemed as an 
excellent, wise man, who in his life and death might well be 
compared with Christ. His disciples, on the other hand, seemed 
to me to bear a strong resemblance to the Apostles, who dis 
agreed immediately after their Master s death, when each 
manifestly recognised only a limited view as the right one. 
Neither the keenness of Aristotle nor the fulness of Plato pro 
duced the least fruit in me. For the Stoics, on the contrary, I 
had already conceived some affection, and even procured Epic- 
tetus, whom I studied with much interest. My friend unwil 
lingly let me have my way in this one- sidedness, from which 
he could not draw me ; for, in spite of his varied studies, he 
did not know how to bring the leading question into a narrow 
compass. He need only have said to me that in life action 
is everything, and that joy and sorrow come of themselves. 
However, youth should be allowed its own course ; it does 
not stick to false maxims very long ; life soon tears or charms 
it away again. 

The season had become fine ; we often went together into 
the open air, and visited the places of amusement which sur 
rounded the city in great numbers. But it was precisely here 
that matters went worse with me ; for I still saw the ghosts 
of the cousins everywhere, and feared, now here, now there, 
to see one of them step forward. Even the most indiffe 
rent glances of men annoyed me. I had lost that unconscious 
happiness of wandering about unknown and unblanied, and 
of thinking of no observer, even in the greatest crowds. 
Now hypochondriacal fancies began to torment me, as if I 
attracted the attention of the people, as if their eyes were 
turned on my demeanour, to fix it on their memories, to scan 
and to find fault. 

I therefore drew my friend into the woods, and while I 



186 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWJST LIFE. 

shunned the monotonous firs, I sought those fine leafy groves, 
which do not indeed spread far in the district, but are yet of 
sufficient compass for a poor wounded heart to hide itself. 
In the remotest depth of the forest I sought out a solemn 
spot, where the oldest oaks and beeches formed a large, 
noble shaded space. The ground was somewhat sloping, and 
made the worth of the old trunks only the more perceptible. 
Round this open circle closed the densest thickets, from which 
the mossy rocks mightily and venerably peered forth, and 
made a rapid fall for a copious brook. 

Scarcely had I compelled my friend hither, who w r ould rather 
have been in the open country by the stream, among men, than 
he playfully assured me that I showed myself a true German. 
He related to me circumstantially, out of Tacitus, how our 
ancestors found pleasure in the feelings which nature so pro 
vides for us, in such solitudes, with her inartificial architec 
ture. He had not been long discoursing of this, when I ex 
claimed, " Oh ! why did not this precious spot lie in a deeper 
wilderness ! why may we not train a hedge around it, to hal 
low and separate from the world both it and ourselves! 
Surely there is no more beautiful adoration of the Deity than 
that which needs no image, but which springs up in our 
bosom merely from the intercourse with nature ! : What I 
then felt, is still present to me ; what I said, I know not how 
to recall. Thus much, however, is certain, that the undeter 
mined, widely-expanding feelings of youth and of uncultivated 
nations are alone adapted to the sublime, which, if it is to be 
excited in us through external objects, formless, or moulded 
into incomprehensible forms, must surround us with a great 
ness to which we are not equal. 

All men, more or less, feel such a disposition of the soul, 
and seek to satisfy this noble necessity in various ways. But 
as the sublime is easily produced by twilight and night, when 
objects are blended, it is, on the other hand, scared away by 
the day, which separates and sunders everything, and so must 
it also be destroyed by every increase of cultivation, if it be 
not fortunate enough to take refuge with the beautiful, and 
unite itself closely with it, by which both become equally un 
dying and indestructible. 

The brief moments of such enjoyments were still more short 
ened by my meditative friend ; but when I turned back into 



DRAWING FHOM NATURE. 187 

the world, it was altogether in vain that I sought, among the 
bright and barren objects around, again to arouse such feelings 
within me ; nay, I could scarce retain even the remembrance 
of them. My heart, however, was too far spoiled to be able 
to compose itself; it had loved, and the object was snatched 
away from it ; it had lived, and life to it was embittered. A 
friend who makes it too perceptible that he designs to form 
you, excites no feeling of comfort; while a woman who 
is forming you, while she seems to spoil you, is adored 
as a heavenly, joy-bringing being. But that form in which 
the idea of beauty manifested itself to me, had vanished far 
away ; it often visited me under the shade of my oak trees, 
but I could not hold it fast, and I felt a powerful impulse to 
seek something similar in the distance. 

I had imperceptibly accustomed, nay, compelled my friend 
and overseer to leave me alone ; for even in my sacred grove, 
those undefined, gigantic feelings were not sufficient for me. 
The eye was, above all others, the organ by which I seized 
the world. I had, from childhood, lived among painters, and 
had accustomed myself to look at objects, as they did, with 
reference to art. Now I was left to myself and to solitude, 
this gift, half natural, half acquired, made its appearance. 
Wherever I looked, I saw a picture, and whatever struck me, 
whatever gave me delight, I wished to fix, and began, in the 
most awkward manner, to draw after nature. In this I 
lacked nothing less than everything ; yet, though without any 
technical means, I obstinately persisted in trying to imitate the 
most magnificent things that offered themselves to my sight. 
Thus, to be sure, I acquired a great attention to objects ; but 
I only seized them as a whole, so far as they produced an 
effect ; and, little as nature had meant me for a descriptive 
poet, just as little would she grant me the capacity of a 
draughtsman for details. Since, however, this was the only way 
left me of expressing myself, I stuck to it with so much stub 
bornness, nay, even with melancholy, that I always continued 
my labours the more zealously, the less I saw they produced. 

But I will not deny that there was a certain mixture of 
roguery ; for I had remarked that if I chose for an irksome 
study a half-shaded old trunk, to the hugely curved roots of 
which clung well-lit fern, combined with twinkling maiden 
hair, my friend, who knew from experience that I should not 
be disengaged in less than an hour, commonly resolved to seek. 



188 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

with, his books, some other pleasant little spot. Now nothing 
disturbed me in prosecuting my taste, which was so much the 
more active, since my paper was endeared to me by the cir 
cumstance that I had accustomed myself to see in it, not so 
much what stood upon it, as what I had been thinking of at 
any time and hour when I drew. Thus plants and flowers 
of the commonest kind may form a charming diary for us, 
because nothing that calls back the remembrance of a happy 
moment can be insignificant ; and even now it would be hard 
for me to destroy as worthless many things of the kind that 
have remained to me from different epochs, because they 
transport me immediately to those times which I remember 
with melancholy indeed, but not unwillingly. 

But if such drawings may have had anything of interest in 
themselves, they were indebted for this advantage to the 
sympathy and attention of my father. He, informed by my 
overseer that I had become gradually reconciled to my condi 
tion, and, in particular, had applied myself passionately to 
drawing from nature, was very well satisfied partly because 
he himself set a high value on drawing and painting, partly 
because gossip Seekatz had once said to him, that it was a pity 
I was not destined for a painter. But here again the peculia 
rities of the father and son came into conflict ; for it was almost 
impossible for me to make use of a good, white, perfectly clean 
sheet of paper ; grey old leaves, even if scribbled over on one 
.side already, charmed me most, just as if my awkwardness had 
feared the touchstone of a white ground. Nor were any of my 
drawings quite finished ; and how should I have executed a 
whole, which indeed I saw with my eyes, but did not compre 
hend, and how an individual object, which I had neither skill 
nor patience to follow out ? The pedagogism of my father on 
this point, too, was really to be admired. He kindly asked 
for my attempts, and drew lines round every imperfect sketch. 
He wished, by this means, to compel me to completeness and 
fulness of detail. The irregular leaves he cut straight, and thus 
made the beginning of a collection, in which he wished, at some 
future time, to rejoice at the progress of his son. It was 
therefore by no means disagreeable to him when my wild, 
restless disposition sent me roving about the country ; he 
rather seemed pleased when I brought back a parcel of draw 
ings on which he could exercise his patience, and in some 
measure strengthen his hopes. 



GOETHE S SISTER. 189 

They no longer said that I might relapse into my former 
attachments and connexions ; they left me by degrees perfect 
liberty. By accidental inducements and in accidental society 
I undertook many journeys to the mountain-range which, 
from my childhood, had stood so distant and solemn before 
me. Thus we visited Homburg, Kroneburg, ascended the 
Feldberg, from which the prospect invited us still further and 
further into the distance. Konigstein, too, was not left un- 
visited ; Wiesbaden, Schwalbach, with its environs, occupied us 
many days ; we reached the Rhine, which, from the heights, 
we had seen winding along far off. Mentz astonished us, but 
could not chain a youthful mind, which was running into the 
open country ; we were delighted with the situation of Bibe- 
rich ; and, contented and happy, we resumed our journey 
home. 

This whole tour, from w r hich my father had promised him 
self many a drawing, might have been, almost without fruit ; 
for what taste, what talent, what experience does it not require 
to seize an extensive landscape as a picture ! I was again im 
perceptibly drawn into a narrow compass, from w r hich I derived 
some profit ; for I met no ruined castle, no piece of wall which 
pointed to antiquity, that I did not think an object worthy of my 
pencil, and imitate as well as I could. Even the monument of 
Drusenstein, on the ramparts of Mentz, I copied at some risk, 
and with inconveniences which every one must experience who 
wishes to carry home with him some pictorial reminiscences of 
his travels. Unfortunately I had again taken with me nothing but 
the most miserable common paper, and had clumsily crowded 
several objects into one sheet. But my paternal teacher was not 
perplexed at this ; he cut the sheets apart, had the parts which 
belonged to each other put together by the bookbinder, sur 
rounded the single leaves with lines, and thus actually compelled 
me to draw the outline of different mountains up to the margin, 
and to fill up the foreground with some weeds and stones. 

If his faithful endeavours could not increase my talent, never 
theless this mark of his love of order had upon me a secret 
influence, which afterwards manifested itself vigorously in 
more ways than one. 

From such rambling excursions, undertaken partly for plea 
sure, partly for art, and which could be performed * in a short 
time and often repeated, I was again drawn home, and that by 



190 TKUTH AND POETBY; FBOM MY OWN LIFE, 

a magnet which always acted upon me strongly : this was my 
sister. She, only a year younger than I, had lived my whole 
conscious period of life with me, and was thus bound to me by 
the closest ties. To these natural causes was added a forcible 
motive, which proceeded from our domestic position ; a father 
certainly affectionate and well-meaning, but grave, who, be 
cause he cherished within a very tender heart, externally, with 
incredible consistency, maintained a brazen sternness, that 
he might attain the end of giving his children the best educa 
tion, and of building up, regulating, and preserving his well- 
founded house ; a mother, on the other hand, as yet almost a 
child, who first grew up to consciousness with and in her two 
eldest children ; these three, as they looked at the world with 
healthy eyes, capable of life, and desiring present enjoyment. 
This contradiction floating in the family increased with years. 
My father followed out his views unshaken and uninterrupted ; 
the mother and children could not give up their feelings, their 
claims, their wishes. 

Under these circumstances it was natural that brother and 
sister should attach themselves close to each other, and adhere 
to their mother, that they might singly snatch the pleasures 
forbidden as a whole. But since the hours of solitude and 
toil were very long compared to the moments of recreation 
and enjoyment, especially for my sister, who could never leave 
the house for so long a time as I could, the necessity she felt 
for entertaining herself with me was still sharpened by the 
sense of longing with which she accompanied me to a distance. 

And as, in our first years, playing and learning, growth and 
education, had been quite common to both of us, so that we 
might well have been taken for twins, so did this community, 
this confidence, remain during the development of our physical 
and moral powers. That interest of youth, that amazement at 
the awakening of sensual impulses which clothe themselves in 
mental forms, of mental necessities which clothe themselves in 
sensual images, all the reflections upon these, which obscure 
rather than enlighten us, as the fog covers over and does not illu 
mine the vale from which it is about to rise, the many errors and 
aberrations springing therefrom, all these the brother and 
sister shared and endured hand in hand, and were the less en 
lightened as to their strange condition, as the nearer they 
wished to approach each other, to clear up their minds, the 



GOETHE S SISTEK. 191 

more forcibly did the sacred awe of their close relationship 
keep them apart. 

Reluctantly do I mention, in general terms, what I under 
took to perform, years ago, without being able to accomplish 
it. As I lost this beloved, incomprehensible being, but too 
soon, I felt inducement enough to make her worth present to 
me, and thus arose in me the conception of a poetic whole, in 
which it might be possible to exhibit her individuality : but 
for this no other form could be devised than that of the Ri- 
chardsonian novels. Only by the minutest detail, by endless 
particularities which bear vividly all the character of the whole, 
and as they spring up from a wonderful depth give some feel 
ing of that depth ; only in such a manner would it have been 
in some degree possible to give a representation of this re 
markable personality : for the spring can be apprehended only 
while it is flowing. But from this beautiful and pious design, 
as from so many others, the tumult of the world drew me back, 
and nothing now remains for me but to call up for a moment 
that blessed spirit, as if by the aid of a magic mirror. 

She was tall, well and delicately formed, and had something 
naturally dignified in her demeanour, which melted away into 
a pleasing mildness. The lineaments of her face, neither strik 
ing nor beautiful, indicated a character which was not and 
could not be at union with itself. Her eyes were not the finest 
I have ever seen, but the deepest, behind which you expected 
the most ; and when they expressed any affection, any love, 
their brilliancy was unequalled. And yet, properly speaking, 
this expression was not tender, like that which comes from 
the heart, and at the same time carries with it something of 
longing and desire ; this expression came from the soul, it was 
full and rich, it seemed as if it would only give, without need 
ing to receive. 

But what in a manner quite peculiar disfigured her face, so 
that she would often appear positively ugly, was the fashion of 
those times, which not only bared the forehead, but, either 
accidentally or on purpose, did everything apparently or really 
to enlarge it. Now, as she had the most feminine, most neatly 
arched forehead, and moreover a pair of strong black eyebrows, 
and prominent eyes, these circumstances occasioned a contrast, 
which, if it did not repel every stranger at the first glance, at 
least did not attract him. She early felt it, and this feeling 



192 TKUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWX LIFE. 

became constantly the more painful to her, the further she 
advanced into the years when both sexes find an innocent 
pleasure in being mutually agreeable. 

To nobody can his own form be repugnant ; the ugliest as 
well as the most beautiful has a right to enjoy his own pre 
sence ; and as favour beautifies, and every one regards him 
self in the looking-glass with favour, it may be asserted that 
every one must see himself with complacency, even if he would 
struggle against the feeling. Yet my sister had such a decided 
foundation of good sense, that she could not possibly be blind 
and silly in this respect ; on the contrary, she perhaps knew 
more clearly than she ought, that she stood far behind her 
female playfellows in external beauty, without feeling con 
soled by the fact that she infinitely surpassed them in internal 
advantages. 

If a ]ady can be recompensed for the want of beauty, then 
was she richly so by the unbounded confidence, the regard, and 
love which all her female friends bore to her ; whether they 
were older or younger, all cherished the same sentiments. A 
very pleasant society had collected around her ; young men 
were not wanting who knew how to insinuate themselves ; 
nearly every girl found an admirer ; she alone had remained 
without a partner. Indeed, if her exterior was in some mea 
sure repulsive, the mind that gleamed through it was also 
rather repelling than attractive ; for the presence of any ex 
cellence throws others back upon themselves. She felt this 
sensibly, she did not conceal it from me, and her love was 
directed to me with so much the greater force. The case was 
singular enough. As confidants to whom one reveals a love- 
affair actually by genuine sympathy become lovers also, nay, 
grow into rivals, and at last, perchance, transfer the passion 
to themselves, so it was with us two : for, when my connexion 
with Gretchen was torn asunder, my sister consoled me the 
more earnestly, because she secretly felt the satisfaction of 
having gotten rid of a rival ; and I, too, could riot but feel a 
quiet, half- delicious pleasure, when she did me the justice to 
assure me that I was the only one who truly loved, understood, 
and esteemed her. If now, from time to time, my grief for 
the loss of Gretchen revived, and I suddenly began to weep, 
to lament, and to act in a disorderly manner, my despair for 
my lost one awakened in her likewise a similar despairing im- 



THE SISTEK S LOVEK. 193 

patience as to the never-possessings, the failures, and miscar 
riages of such youthful attachments, that we both thought 
ourselves infinitely unhappy, and the more so as, in this sin 
gular case, the confidants dared not change themselves into 

lovers. 

Fortunately, however, the capricious god of Love, who 
needlessly does so much mischief, here for once interfered 
beneficially, to extricate us out of all perplexity. I had much 
intercourse with a young Englishman who was educated in 
Pfeil s boarding-school. He could give a good account of his 
own language, I practised it with him, and thus learned much 
concerning his country and people. He went in and out of 
our house long enough without my remarking in him a liking 
for my sister, yet he may have been nourishing it in secret, 
even to passion, for at last it declared itself unexpectedly and 
at once. She knew him, she esteemed him, and he deserved 
it. She had often made the third at our English conversations, 
we had both tried to catch from his mouth the irregularities 
of the English pronunciation, and thereby accustomed our 
selves not only to the peculiarities of its accent and sound, 
but even to what was most peculiar in the personal qualities 
of our teacher ; so that at last it sounded strangely enough 
when we all seemed to speak as if out of one mouth. The 
pains he took to learn as much German from us in the like 
manner, were to no purpose, and I think I have remarked that 
even this little love-affair also, both in speaking and writing, 
was carried on in the English language. Both the young 
persons were very well suited to each other ; he was tall and 
well-built, as she was, only still more slender ; his face, small 
and compact, might really have been pretty, had it not been 
too much disfigured by the small-pox ; his manner was calm, 
precise, one might often have called it dry and cold ; but his 
heart was full of kindness and love, his soul full of generosity, 
and his attachments as lasting as they were decided and mode 
rate. Now this serious pair, who had but lately formed an 
attachment, were quite peculiarly distinguished among the 
others, who, being already better acquainted with each other, 
of more frivolous character, and careless as to the future, roved 
about with levity in these connexions, which commonly pass 
away as the mere fruitless prelude to subsequent and more 
serious ties, and very seldom produce a lasting effect upon life. 

o 



194 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

The fine weather and the beautiful country did not remain 
uiienjoyed by so lively a company ; water excursions were fre 
quently arranged, because these are the most sociable of all 
parties of pleasure. Yet whether we were moving on water 
or on land, the individual attracting powers immediately 
showed themselves ; each couple kept together, and for some 
men who were not engaged, of whom I was one, there re 
mained either no conversation with the ladies at all, or only 
such as no one would have chosen for a day of pleasure. A 
friend who found himself in this situation, and who might 
have been in want of a partner chiefly for this reason, that 
with the best humour he lacked tenderness, and with much 
intelligence, that delicate attention, without which connexions 
of this kind are not to be thought of ; this man, after often 
humorously and wittily lamenting his condition, promised at 
the next meeting to make a proposal which would benefit him 
self and the whole company. Nor did he fail to perform his 
promise : for, when after a brilliant trip by water, and a very 
pleasant walk, reclining on the grass between shady knolls, or 
sitting on mossy rocks and roots of trees, we had cheerfully 
and happily consumed a rural meal, and our friend saw us all 
cheerful and in good spirits, he, with a waggish dignity, com 
manded us to sit close round him in a semicircle, before 
which he stepped, and began to make an emphatic peroration 
as follows : 

"Most worthy friends of both sexes, paired and unpaired! 
It was already evident, from this adolress, how necessary it 
was that a preacher of repentance should arise and sharpen 
the conscience of the company. " One part of my noble 
friends is paired, and they may find themselves quite happy ; 
another unpaired, and these find themselves in the highest 
degree miserable, as I can assure you from my own experience ; 
and although the loving couples are here in the majority, yet 
I would have them consider whether it is not a social duty to 
take thought for the whole ? Why do so many of us unite 
together but to take a mutual interest in each other? and how 
can that be done when so many little secessions are to be seen 
in our circle ? Far be it from me to insinuate anything against 
such sweet connexions, or even to wish to disturb them ; but 
* there is a time for all things ! an excellent great saying, of 
which, indeed, nobody thinks when his own amusement is 
sufficiently provided for." 



HUMOROUS OBATION. 195 

He then went on with constantly increasing liveliness and 
gaiety to compare the social virtues with the tender senti 
ments. " The latter," said he, " can never fail us ; we always 
carry them about with us, and every one becomes a master in 
them without practice ; but we must go in quest of the former, 
we must take some trouble about them, and though we pro 
gress in them as much as we will, we have never done learning 
them." Now he went into particulars. Many felt themselves 
hit off, and they could not help casting glances at each other; 
yet our friend had this privilege, that nothing he did was taken 
ill, and so he could proceed without interruption. 

" It is not enough to discover deficiencies ; indeed, it is un 
just to do so, if at the same time one cannot contrive to give 
the means for bettering the state of affairs. I will not, there 
fore, my friends, something like a preacher in Passion- week, 
exhort you in general terms to repentance and amendment ; 
I rather wish all amiable couples the longest and most endur 
ing happiness, and to contribute to it myself in the surest 
manner, I propose to sever and abolish these most charming 
little segregations during our social hours. I have," he con 
tinued, " already provided for the execution of my project, if 
it should meet your approbation. Here is a bag in which are 
the names of the gentlemen; now draw, my fair ones, and be 
pleased to favour as your servant, for a week, him whom fate 
shall send you. This is binding only within our circle; as 
soon as that is broken up, these connexions are also abolished, 
and the heart may decide who shall attend you home." 

A large part of the company had been delighted with this 
address, and the manner in which he delivered it, and seemed 
to approve of the notion; yet some couples looked at each 
other as if they thought they would not find their account in 
it : he therefore cried with humorous vehemence : 

" Truly ! it surprises me that some one does not spring up, 
and, though others hesitate, extol my plan, explain its advan 
tages, and spare me the pain of being my own encomiast. I 
am the oldest among you ; may God forgive me for that ! 
Already have I a bald pate, which is owing to my great medi 
tation," 

Here he took off his hat 

" But I would expose it to view with joy and honour if my 
lucubrations, which dry up my skin, and rob me of my finest 

o 2 



196 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

ornament, could only be in some measure beneficial to myself 
and others. We are young, my friends, that is good ; we 
shall grow older, that is bad ; we take little offence at each 
other, that is right, and in accordance with the season. But 
soon, my friends, the days will come when we shall have much 
to be displeased at in ourselves ; then let every one see that 
he makes all right with himself; but, at the same time, others 
will take things ill of us, and 011 what account we shall not 
understand ; for this we must prepare ourselves ; this shall 
now be done." 

He had delivered the whole speech, but especially the last 
part, with the tone and gesture of a Capuchin ; for as he was 
a catholic, he might have had abundant opportunity to study 
the oratory of these fathers. He now appeared out of breath, 
wiped his youthful bald head, which really gave him the look 
of a priest, and by these drolleries put the light-hearted com 
pany in such good humour that every one was eager to hear 
him longer. But instead of proceeding, he drew open the 
bag, and turned to the nearest lady " Now for a trial of it ! 
exclaimed he ; " the work will do credit to the master. If in 
a week s time we do not like it, we will give it up, and stick 
to the old plan." 

Half willingly, half on compulsion, the ladies drew their 
tickets, and it was easy to see that various passions were in 
play during this little affair. Fortunately it happened that 
the merry-minded were separated, while the more serious re 
mained together ; and so, too, my sister kept her Englishman, 
which, on both sides, they took very kindly of the god of Love 
and Luck. The new chance-couples were immediately united 
by the Antistes, their healths were drank, and to all the more 
joy was wished, as its duration was to be but short. This 
was certainly the merriest moment that our company had 
enjoyed for a long time. The young men to whose share no 
lady had fallen, held, for this week, the office of providing 
for the mind, the soul, and the body, as our orator expressed 
himself, but especially, he hinted, for the soul, since both the 
others already knew how to help themselves. 

These masters of ceremonies, who wished at once to do 
themselves credit, brought into play some very pretty new 
games, prepared at some distance a supper, which we had not 
reckoned on, and illuminated the yacht on our return at night, 



SECOND ORATION. 197 

although there was no necessity for it in the bright moonlight ; 
but they excused themselves by saying that it was quite con 
formable to the new social regulation to outshine the tender 
glances of the heavenly moon by earthly candles. The moment 
we touched the shore, our Solon cried, u Ite, missa est . r 
Each one now handed out of the vessel the lady who had 
fallen to him by lot, and then surrendered her to her proper 
partner, on receiving his own in exchange. 

At our next meeting this weekly regulation was established 
for the summer, and the lots were drawn once more. There 
was no question but that this pleasantry gave a new and un 
expected turn to the company, and every one was stimulated 
to display whatever of wit and grace was in him, and to pay 
court to his temporary fair one in the most obliging manner, 
since he might depend on having a sufficient store of com 
plaisance for one week at least. 

We had scarcely settled ourselves, than, instead of thank 
ing our orator, we reproached him for having kept to himself 
the best part of his speech the conclusion. He thereupon 
protested that the best part of a speech was persuasion 
and that he who did not aim at persuasion should make 
no speech; for, as to conviction, that was a ticklish busi 
ness. As, however, they gave him no peace, he began a 
Capuchinade on the spot, more comical than ever, perhaps, 
for the very reason that he took it into his head to speak on 
the most serious subjects. For, with texts out of the Bible 
which had nothing to do with the business with similes 
which did not fit with allusions which illustrated nothing 
he carried out the proposition, that whosoever does not know 
how to conceal his passions, inclinations, wishes, purposes 
and plans, will come to no good in the world, but will be dis 
turbed and made a butt in every end and corner ; and that 
especially if one would be happy in love, one must take pains 
to keep it a most profound secret. 

This thought ran through the whole, without, properly 
speaking, a single word of it being said. If you would form a 
conception of this singular man, let it be considered that, 
being born with a good foundation, he had cultivated his 
talents, and especially his acuteness, in Jesuit schools, and 
had amassed an extensive knowledge of the world and of men, 
but only on the bad side. He was some two-and-twenty 



198 TRUTH AXD POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

years old, and would gladly have made me a proselyte to his 
contempt for mankind ; but this would not take with me, as 
I always had a great desire to be good myself, and to find 
good in others. Meanwhile I was by him made attentive to 
many things. 

To complete the dramatis persona of every merry company, 
an actor is necessary, who feels pleasure when the others, to 
enliven many an indifferent moment, point the arrows of their 
wit at him. If he is not merely a stuffed Saracen, like those 
on whom the knights used to practise their lances in mock 
battles, but understands himself how to skirmish, to rally and 
to challenge, how to wound lightly, and recover himself again, 
and, while he seems to expose himself, to give others a thrust 
home, nothing more agreeable can be found. Such a man we 
possessed in our friend Horn, whose name, to begin with, 
gave occasion for all sorts of jokes, and who, on account of 
his small figure, was called nothing but Hornchen (little 
Horn). He was, in fact, the smallest in the company, of a 
stout, but pleasing form; a pug-nose, a mouth somewhat 
pouting, little sparkling eyes, made up a swarthy countenance, 
which always seemed to invite laughter. His little com 
pact skull was thickly covered with curly black hair; his 
beard was prematurely grey, and he would have liked to let 
it grow, that, as a comic mask, he might always keep the 
company laughing. For the rest, he was neat and nimble, 
but insisted that he had bandy legs, which everybody granted, 
since he was bent on having it so, but about which many a 
joke arose ; for since he was in request as a very good dancer, 
he reckoned it among the peculiarities of the fair sex, that 
they always liked to see bandy legs on the floor. His cheer 
fulness was indestructible, and his presence at every meeting 
indispensable. We two kept more together because he was 
to follow me to the university ; and he well deserves that I 
should mention him with all honour, as he adhered to me for 
many years with infinite love, faithfulness, and patience. 

By my ease in rhyming, and in winning from common 
objects a poetical side, he had allowed himself to be seduced 
into similar labours. Our little social excursions, parties of 
pleasure, and the contingencies that occurred in them, we 
decked out poetically, and thus by the description of an event, 
a new event always arose. But as such social jests commonly 



COMIC HEBOICAL POETRY. 199 

degenerate into personal ridicule, and my friend Horn, with his 
burlesque representations, did not always keep within proper 
bounds, many a misunderstanding arose, which, however, 
could soon be softened down and effaced. 

Thus, also, he tried his skill in a species of poetry which 
was then very much the order of the day the comic heroical 
poem. Pope s Rape of the Lock had called forth many imita 
tions ; Zacharia cultivated this branch of poetry on German 
soil, and it pleased every one, because the ordinary subject of 
it was some awkward fellow, of whom the genii made game, 
while they favoured the better one. 

It is not wonderful, but yet it excites wonder, when, in 
contemplating a literature, especially the German, one ob 
serves how a whole nation cannot get free from a subject 
which has been once given, and happily treated in a certain 
form, but will have it repeated in every manner, until, at 
last, the original itself is covered up, and stifled by the 
heaps of imitations. 

The heroic poem of my friend was a voucher for this re 
mark. At a great sledging party, an awkward man has 
assigned to him a lady who does not like him; comically 
enough there befalls him, one after another, every accident 
that can happen on such an occasion, until at last, as he is 
entreating for the sledge-driver s right (a kiss), he falls from 
the back seat ; for just then, as was natural, the genii tripped 
him up. The fair one seizes the reins, and drives home alone, 
where a favoured friend receives her. and triumphs over his 
presumptuous rival. As to the rest, it was very prettily con 
trived that the four different kinds of spirits should worry him 
in turn, till at the end the gnomes hoist him completely out 
of the saddle. The poem, written in Alexandrines, and founded 
on a true story, highly delighted our little public, and we 
were convinced that it could well be compared with the 
Walpurgisnight of Loven, or the Renommist of Zacharia.* 

While, now, our social pleasures required but an evening, 
and the preparations for them only a few hours, I had enough 
time to read, and, as I thought, to study. To please my 
father, I diligently repeated the smaller work of Hopp, and 
could stand an examination in it forwards and backwards, by 

This word, which signifies something like our " bully/ is specially 
used to designate a fighting student. Trans. 



200 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

which means I made myself complete master of the chief con 
tents of the Institutes. But a restless eagerness for know 
ledge urged me further; I lit upon the history of ancient 
literature, and from that fell into an encyclopedism, in which 
I read through Gessners Isagoge and Morhov s Polyhistor, 
and thus gained a general notion of how many strange things 
might have happened in learning and life. By this perse 
vering and rapid industry, continued day and night, I more 
confused than instructed myself; but I lost myself in a still 
greater labyrinth when I found Bayle in my father s library, 
and plunged deep into him. 

But a leading conviction, which was continually revived 
within me, was that of the importance of the ancient tongues ; 
since from amidst this literary hurly-burly, thus much con 
tinually forced itself upon me, that in them were preserved 
all the models of oratory, and at the same time everything 
else of worth that the world has ever possessed. Hebrew, 
together with biblical studies, had retired into the back 
ground, and Greek likewise, since my acquaintance with it 
did not extend beyond the New Testament. I therefore the 
more zealously kept to Latin, the master-pieces in which lie 
nearer to us, and which, besides its splendid original produc 
tions, offers us the other wealth of all ages in translations, and 
the works of the greatest scholars. I consequently read much in 
this language, with great ease, and was bold enough to believe 
I understood the authors, because I missed nothing of the 
literal sense. Indeed I was very indignant when I heard 
that Grotius had insolently declared, " he did not read Terence 
as boys do." Happy narrow-mindedness of youth ! nay, of 
men in general, that they can, at every moment of their 
existence, fancy themselves finished, and inquire after neither 
the true nor the false, after neither the high nor the deep, but 
merely after that which is suited to them. 

I had thus learned Latin, like German, French, and 
English, merely by practice, without rules, and without con 
ception. Whoever knows the condition of school instruction 
then, will not think it strange that I skipped grammar as well 
as rhetoric ; all seemed to me to come together naturally ; I 
retained the words, their forms and inflexions, in my ear and 
mind, and used the language with ease in writing and in 
chattering. 



DISGUST AT FBANKFORT. 201 

Michaelmas, the time when I was to go to the university, 
was approaching, and my mind was excited quite as much about 
my life as about my learning. I grew more and more clearly 
conscious of an aversion to my native city. By Gretchen s 
removal, the heart had been broken out of the boyish and 
youthful plant ; it needed time to bud forth again from its 
sides, and surmount the first injury by a new growth. My 
ramblings through the streets had ceased ; I now, like others, 
only went such ways as were necessary. I never went again 
into Gretchen s quarter of the city, not even into its vicinity ; 
and as my old walls and towers became gradually disagreeable 
to me, so also was I displeased at the constitution of the 
city ; all that hitherto seemed so worthy of honour, now ap 
peared to me in distorted shapes. As grandson of the Schul- 
theiss, the secret defects of such a republic had not remained 
unknown to me ; the less so, as children feel quite a peculiar 
surprise, and are excited to busy researches, as soon as some 
thing which they have hitherto implicitly revered becomes in 
any degree suspicious to them. The fruitless indignation of 
upright men, in opposition to those who are to be gained 
and even bribed by factions, had become but too plain to me ; 
I hated every injustice beyond measure ; for children are all 
moral rigorists. My father, who was concerned in the affairs 
of the city only as a private citizen, expressed himself with 
very lively indignation about much that had failed. And did 
I not see him, after so many studies, endeavours, pains, travels, 
and so much varied cultivation, between his four walls, leading 
a solitary life, such as I could never desire for myself? All 
this put together, lay as a horrible load on my mind, from 
which I could only free myself by trying to contrive a plan of 
life altogether different from that which had been marked out 
for me. In thought, I threw away my legal studies, and de 
voted myself solely to the languages, to antiquities, to history, 
and to all that flows from them. 

Indeed, at all times, the poetic imitation of what I had per 
ceived in myself, in others, and in nature, afforded me the 
greatest pleasure. I did it with ever-increasing facility, be 
cause it came by instinct, and no criticism, had led me astray ; 
and if I did not feel full confidence in my productions, I could 
certainly regard them as defective, but not such as to be ut 
terly rejected. Was this or that censured in them, I still 



202 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

retained in private my conviction that I could not but gra 
dually improve, and that some time I might be honourably 
named along with Hagedorn, Gellert, and other such men. But 
such a distinction alone seemed to me too empty and inade 
quate ; I wished to devote myself professionally and with zeal 
to those aforesaid fundamental studies, and while I thought 
to advance myself more rapidly in my own works by a more 
thorough insight into antiquity, to qualify myself for a uni 
versity professorship, which seemed to me the most desirable 
thing for a young man who intended to cultivate himself and 
to contribute to the cultivation of others. 

With these intentions, I always had my eye upon Gottin- 
gen. My whole confidence rested upon men like Heyne, 
Michaelis, and so many others ; my most ardent wish was to 
sit at their feet, and attend to their instructions. But my 
father remained inflexible. However, some family friends, 
who were of my opinion, tried to influence him ; he persisted 
that I must go to Leipzig. I was now resolved, contrary 
to his views and wishes, to choose a line of studies and of life 
for myself, by way of self-defence. The obstinacy of my 
father, who, without knowing it, opposed himself to my plans, 
strengthened me in my impiety, so that I made no scruple to 
listen to him by the hour, while he described and repeated to 
me the course of study and of life which I should pursue at 
the universities and in the world. 

Since all hopes of Gottingen were cut off, I now turned my 
eyes towards Leipzig. There Ernesti appeared to me as a 
brilliant light ; Morus, too, already awakened much confi 
dence. I planned for myself in secret an opposition-course, 
or rather I built a castle in the air, on a tolerably solid foun 
dation ; and it seemed to me quite romantically honourable to 
mark out my own path of life, which appeared the less vision 
ary, as Griesbach had already made great progress in a similar 
way, and was commended for it by every one. The secret joy 
of a prisoner, when he has unbound the fetters and rapidly filed 
through the bars of his gaol- window, cannot be greater than 
was mine as I saw day after day disappear, and October draw 
nigh. The inclement season and the bad roads, of which 
everybody had something to tell, did not frighten me. The 
thought of paying my entrance-fee in a strange place, and in 
winter, did not make me sad ; suffice it to say, that I only 



DEPABTITEE FOR LEIPZIG. 203 

saw my present situation was gloomy, and represented to 
myself the other unknown world as light and cheerful. Thus 
I formed my dreams, to which I gave myself up exclusively, 
and promised myself nothing but happiness and content in 
the distance. 

Closely as I kept these projects a secret from every one 
else, I could not hide them from my sister, who, after being 
very much alarmed about them at first, was finally consoled 
when I promised to send after her, so that she could enjoy 
with me the brilliant station I was to obtain, and share my 
comfort with me. 

Michaelmas, so longingly expected, came at last, when I set 
out with delight, in company with the bookseller Fleischer 
and his wife (whose maiden name was Triller, and who was 
going to visit her father in Wittemberg) ; and I left behind 
me the worthy city in which I had been born and bred, with 
indifference, as if I wished never to set foot in it again. 

Thus, at certain epochs, children part from parents, ser 
vants from masters, proteges from their patrons ; and whether 
it succeed or not, such an attempt to stand on one s own feet, 
to make one s self independent, to live for one s self, is always 
in accordance with the will of nature. 

We had driven out through the Allerheiligen (All Saints] 
gate, and had soon left Hanau behind us, after which we 
reached scenes which aroused my attention by their novelty, 
if, at this season of the year, they offered little that was 
pleasing. A continual rain had completely spoiled the roads, 
which, generally speaking, were not then in such good order 
as we find them now ; and our journey was thus neither plea 
sant nor happy. Yet I was indebted to this damp weather 
for the sight of a natural phenomenon which must be exceed 
ingly rare, for I have seen nothing like it since, nor have I 
heard of its being observed by others. At night, namely, we 
were driving up a rising ground between Hanau and Gel- 
hausen, and, although it was dark, we preferred walking to 
exposing ourselves to the danger and difficulty of that part of 
the road. All at once, in a ravine on the right-hand side of 
the way, I saw a sort of amphitheatre, wonderfully illuminated. 
In a funnel-shaped space there were innumerable little lights 
gleaming, ranged step-fashion over one another, and they shone 
so brilliantly that the eye was dazzled. But what stiU more 



204 TKTJTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

confused the sight was, that they did not keep still, but jumped 
about here and there, as well downwards from above as vice 
versa, and in every direction. The most of them, however, 
remained stationary, and beamed on. It was only with the 
greatest reluctance that I suffered myself to be called away 
from this spectacle, which I could have wished to examine 
more closely. On interrogating the postillion, he indeed knew 
nothing about such a phenomenon, but said that there was in 
the neighbourhood an old stone-quarry, the excavation of which 
was filled with water. Now whether this was a pandemonium 
of will-o -the-wisps, or a company of shining creatures, I 
will not decide. 

The roads through Thuringia were yet worse, and unfortu 
nately, at night-fall, our coach stuck fast in the vicinity of 
Auerstadt. We were far removed from all mankind, and did 
everything possible to work ourselves out. I failed not to exert 
myself zealously, and might thereby have overstrained the 
ligaments of my chest ; for soon afterwards I felt a pain, which 
went off and returned, and did not leave me entirely until after 
many years. 

Yet on that same night, as if it had been destined for alter 
nate good and bad kick, I was forced, after an unexpectedly 
fortunate incident, to experience a teazing vexation. We met, 
in Auerstadt, a genteel married couple, who had also just 
arrived, having been delayed by a similar accident ; a pleasing, 
dignified man, in his best years, with a very handsome wife. 
They politely persuaded us to sup in their company, and I felt 
very happy when the excellent lady addressed a friendly word 
to me. But when I was sent out to accelerate the soup which 
had been ordered, not having been accustomed to the loss of 
rest and the fatigues of travelling, such an unconquerable 
drowsiness overtook me, that actually I fell asleep while walk 
ing, returned into the room with my hat on my head, and 
without remarking that the others were saying grace, placed 
myself with quiet unconsciousness behind the chair, and never 
dreamed that by my conduct I had come to disturb their de 
votions in a very droll way. Madame Fleischer, who lacked 
neither spirit nor wit, nor tongue, entreated the strangers, 
before they had seated themselves, not to be surprised at any 
thing they might see here ; for that their young fellow-traveller 
had in his nature much of the peculiarity of the Quakers, who 



LEIPZIG. 205 

believe that they cannot honour God and the king better than 
with covered heads. The handsome lady, who could not re 
strain her laughter, looked prettier than ever in consequence, 
and I would have given everything in the world not to have 
been the cause of a merriment which was so beautifully becom 
ing in her countenance. I had, however, scarcely laid aside 
my hat, than these persons, in accordance with their polished 
manners, immediately dropped the joke, and with the best 
wine from their bottle-case completely extinguished sleep, 
chagrin, and the memory of all past troubles. 

I arrived in Leipzig just at the time of the fair, from which I 
derived particular pleasure : for here I saw before me the conti 
nuation of a state of things belonging to my native city, familiar 
wares and traders; only in other places, and in a different 
order. I rambled about the market and the booths with much 
interest, but my attention was particularly attracted by the 
inhabitants of the Eastern countries in their strange dresses, the 
Poles and Russians, and above all, the Greeks, for the sake of 
whose handsome forms and dignified costume I often went to 
the spot. 

But this animating bustle was soon over, and now the city 
itself appeared before me, with its handsome, high, and uni 
form houses. It made a very good impression upon me, and 
it cannot be denied, that in general, but especially in the silent 
moments of Sundays and holidays, it has something imposing ; 
and when in the moonlight the streets were half in shadow, 
half- illuminated, they often invited me to nocturnal promenades. 

In the meantime, as compared with that to which I had 
hitherto been accustomed, this new state of affairs was by no 
means satisfactory. Leipzig calls up before the spectator no 
antique time ; it is a new, recently elapsed epoch, testifying 
commercial activity, comfort and wealth, which announces 
itself to us in these monuments. Yet quite to my taste were 
the huge-looking buildings, which, fronting two streets, and 
embracing a citizen- world within their large court-yards, built 
round with lofty walls, are like large castles, nay, even half- 
cities. In one of these strange places I quartered myself, 
namely, in the Bombshell Tavern (Teuerkugel), between the 
Old and the New Newmarket (Neumarkt). A couple of pleasant 
rooms looking out upon a court-yard, which, on account of the 
thoroughfare, was not without animation, were occupied by the 



206 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

i30okseller Fleischer during the fair ; and by me taken for the 
rest of the time at a moderate price. As a fellow-lodger I 
found a theological student, who was deeply learned in his 
professional studies, a sound thinker, but poor, and suffering 
much from his eyes, which caused him great anxiety for the 
future. He had brought this affliction upon himself by his 
inordinate reading till the latest dusk of the evening, and even 
by moonlight, to save a little oil. Our old hostess showed 
herself benevolent to him, always friendly to me, and careful 
for us both. 

I now hastened with my letters of introduction to Hofrath 
Bohme, who once a pupil of Maskow, and now his successor, 
was professor of history and public law. A little, thick-set, 
lively man, received me kindly enough, and introduced me to 
his wife. Both of them, as well as the other persons whom I 
waited on, gave me the pleasantest hopes as to my future resi 
dence ; but at first I let no one know of the design I entertained, 
although I could scarcely wait for the favourable moment when 
I should declare myself free from jurisprudence, and devoted 
to the study of the classics. I cautiously waited till the 
Fleischers had returned, that my purpose might not be too 
prematurely betrayed to my family. But I then went, with 
out delay, to Hofrath Bohme, to whom, before all, I thought 
I must confide the matter, and with much self-importance and 
boldness of speech disclosed my views to him. However, I 
found by no means a good reception of my proposition. As 
professor of history and public law, he had a declared hatred 
for everything that savoured of the belles lettres. Unfortu 
nately he did not stand on the best footing with those who 
cultivated them, and Gellert in particular, in whom I had, 
awkwardly enough, expressed much confidence, he could not 
even endure. To send a faithful student to those men, there 
fore, while he deprived himself of one, and especially, under 
such circumstances, seemed to him altogether out of the ques 
tion. He therefore gave me a severe lecture on the spot, in 
which he protested that he could not permit such a step with 
out the permission of my parents, even if he approved of it 
himself, which was not the case in this instance. He then 
passionately inveighed against philology and the study of lan 
guages, but still more against poetical exercises, which I had 
indeed allowed to peep out in the back-ground. He finally 



GELLERT. 207 

concluded that, if I wished to enter more closely into the study 
of the ancients, it could be done much better by the way of 
jurisprudence. He brought to my recollection many elegant 
jurists, such as Eberhard, Otto, and Heineccius, promised me 
mountains of gold from Roman antiquities and the history of 
law, and showed me, clear as the sun, that I should here be 
taking no roundabout way, even if afterwards, on more mature 
deliberation, and with the consent of my parents, I should 
determine to follow out my own plan. He begged me, in a 
friendly manner, to think the matter over once more, and to 
open my mind to him soon, as it would be necessary to come 
to a determination at once, on account of the impending com 
mencement of the lectures. 

It was, however, very polite of him not to press me on the 
spot. His arguments, and the weight with which he advanced 
them, had already convinced my pliant youth, and I now first 
saw the difficulties and doubtfulness of a matter which I had 
privately pictured to myself as so feasible. Frau Hofrath 
Bohme invited me to see her shortly afterwards. I found her 
alone. She was no longer young, and had very delicate health, 
was gentle and tender to an infinite degree, and formed a de 
cided contrast to her husband, whose good-nature was even 
blustering. She spoke of the conversation her husband had 
lately had with me, and once more placed the subject before 
me, in all its bearings, in so cordial a manner, so affectionately 
and sensibly, that I could not help yielding ; the few reserva 
tions on which I insisted were also agreed upon by the other 
side. 

Thereupon her husband regulated my hours : for I was to 
hear lectures on philosophy, the history of law, the Institutes, 
and some other matters. I was content with this ; but I car 
ried my point so as to attend Gellert s history of literature 
(with Stockhauseii for a text-book), and his Practicwn besides. 

The reverence and love with which Gellert was regarded by 
all young people was extraordinary. I had already visited him, 
and had been kindly received by him. Not of tall stature, 
elegant without being lean, soft and rather pensive eyes, a very 
fine forehead, a nose aquiline, but not too much so, a delicate 
mouth, a face of an agreeable oval, all made his presence 
pleasing and desirable. It cost some trouble to reach him. 
His two Famuli appeared like priests who guard a sanctuary, 



208 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

the access to which is not permitted to everybody, nor at every 
time ; and such a precaution was very necessary : for he would 
have sacrificed his whole time, had he been willing to receive 
and satisfy all those who wished to become intimate with him. 

At first I attended my lectures assiduously and faithfully : 
but the philosophy would not enlighten me at all. In the logic 
it seemed strange to me that I had so to tear asunder, isolate, 
and, as it were, destroy those operations of the mind which I 
had performed with the greatest ease from my youth upwards, 
and this in order to see into the right use of them. Of the 
thing itself, of the world, and of God, I thought I knew about 
as much as the professor himself, and in more places than 
one the affair seemed to me to come into a tremendous strait. 
Yet all went on in tolerable order till towards Shrovetide, 
when, in the neighbourhood of Professor "Winkler s house on 
the Thomas-place, the most delicious fritters came hot out of 
the pan just at the hour of lecture, and these delayed us so 
long, that our note-books became disordered, and the conclu 
sion of them, towards spring, melted away, together with the 
snow, and was lost. 

It was soon, quite as bad with the law lectures : for I already 
knew just as much as the professor thought good to commu 
nicate to us. My stubborn industry in writing down the lec 
tures at first, was paralyzed by degrees, for I found it exces 
sively tedious to pen down once more that which, partly by 
question, partly by answer, I had repeated with my father often 
enough to retain it for ever in my memory. The harm which 
is done when young people at school are advanced too far in 
many things, was afterwards manifested still more when time 
and attention, were diverted from exercises in the languages, 
and a foundation in what are, properly speaking, preparatory 
4 studies, in order to be applied to what are called " Realities," 
which dissipate more than they cultivate, if they are not me 
thodically and thoroughly taught. 

I here mention, by the way, another evil by which students 
are much embarrassed. Professors, as well as other men in 
office, cannot all be of the same age ; but when the younger 
ones teach, in fact, only that they may learn, and moreover, if 
they have talent, anticipate their age, they acquire their own 
cultivation altogether at the cost of their hearers, since these 
are not instructed in what they really need, but in that which 



DOMESTIC TAILORING. 209 

the professor finds it necessary to elaborate for himself. Among 
the oldest professors, on the contrary, many are for a long 
time stationary ; they deliver on the whole only fixed views, 
and, in the details, much that time has already condemned as 
useless and false. Between the two arises a sad conflict, in 
which young minds are dragged hither and thither, and which 
can scarcely be set right by the middle-aged professors, who, 
though sufficiently instructed and cultivated, always feel Avithin 
themselves an active endeavour after knowledge and reflection. 

Now as in this way I learned to know much more than I 
could digest, whereby a constantly increasing uncomfortable- 
ness was forced upon me, so also from life I experienced many 
disagreeable trifles, as indeed one must always pay the entrance- 
fee when one changes one s place and comes into a new posi 
tion. The first thing that the ladies blamed in me related 
to my dress ; for I had come from home to the university 
lather oddly equipped. 

My father, who detested nothing so much as when some 
thing happened in vain, when any one did not know how to 
make use of his time, or found no opportunity for turning it 
to account, carried his economy of time and abilities so far, 
that nothing gave him greater pleasure than to kill two birds 
with one stone. * He had therefore never engaged a servant 
who could not be useful to the house in something else. Now, 
as he had always written everything with his own hand, and 
had, latterly, the convenience of dictating to the young inmate 
of the house, he found it most advantageous to have tailors 
for his domestics, who were obliged to make good use of their 
time, as they not only had to make their own liveries, but the 
clothes for my father and the children, besides doing all the 
mending. My father himself took pains to have the best 
cloths and stuffs, by getting fine wares of the foreign merchants 
at the fair, and laying them up in store. I still remember 
well that he always visited the Herrn von Lowenicht, of Aix- 
la-Chapelle, and from my earliest youth made me acquainted 
with these and other eminent merchants. 

Care was also taken for the fitness of the stuff, and there 

was a plentiful stock of different kinds of cloth, serge, and 

Getting stuff, besides the requisite lining, so that, as far as the 

materials were concerned, we might well venture to be seen. 

* Literally : " to strike two flies with, one flapper." Trans. 

P 



210 TRCTTH AND POETHY ; FEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

But the form spoiled almost everything. For if one of our home- 
tailors was anything of a clever hand at sewing and making up 
a coat which had been cut out for him in masterly fashion, he 
was now obliged also to cut out the dress for himself, which 
did not always succeed to perfection. In addition to this my 
father kept whatever belonged to his clothing in very good 
and neat order, and preserved more than used it for many years. 
Thus he had a predilection for certain old cuts and trimmings, 
by which our dress sometimes acquired a strange appearance. 

In this same way had the wardrobe which I took with me 
to the university been furnished : it was very complete and 
handsome, and there was even a laced suit amongst the rest. 
Already accustomed to this kind of attire, I thought myself 
sufficiently well dressed ; but it was not long before my female 
friends, first by gentle raillery, then by sensible remonstrances, 
convinced me that I looked as if I had dropped down out of 
another world. Much as I felt vexed at this, I did not at first 
see how I could help myself. But when Herr von Masuren, 
the favourite poetical country squire, once entered the theatre 
in a similar costume, and was heartily laughed at, more by 
reason of his external than his internal absurdity, I took 
courage, and ventured at once to exchange my whole wardrobe 
for a new-fashioned one, suited to the place, by which, however, 
it shrunk considerably. 

After this trial was surmounted, a new one was to make its 
appearance, which proved to be far more unpleasant, because 
it concerned a matter which one does not so easily put off and 
exchange. 

I had been born and bred in the Upper- German dialect, and 
although my father always laboured after a certain purity of 
language, and, from our youth upwards, had made us children 
attentive to what may be really called the defects of that idiom, 
and so prepared us for a better manner of speaking, I retained 
nevertheless many deeper-seated peculiarities, which, because 
they pleased me by their naivete, I was fond of making con 
spicuous, and thus every time I used them incurred a severe 
reprimand from my new fellow- townsmen. The Upper-Ger 
man, and perhaps chiefly he who lives by the Rhine and Maine 
(for great rivers, like the sea-coast, always have something 
animating about them), expresses himself much in similes and 
allusions, and makes use of proverbial sayings with a native 



PROVINCIAL DIALECT. 211 

common-sense aptness. In both cases he is often blunt, but 
when one sees the drift of the expression, it is always appro 
priate ; only something, to be sure, may often slip in, which 
proves offensive to a more delicate ear. 

Every province loves its own dialect: for it is, properly 
speaking, the element in which the soul draws its breath. 
But every one knows with what obstinacy the Misnian dialect 
has contrived to domineer over the rest, and even, for a long 
time, to exclude them. We have suffered for many years 
under this pedantic tyranny, and only by reiterated struggles 
have all the provinces again established themselves in their 
ancient rights. What a lively young man had to endure from 
this continual tutoring, may be easily inferred by any one who 
reflects that modes of thought, imagination, feeling, native 
character, must be sacrificed with the pronunciation which 
one at last consents to alter. And this intolerable demand 
was made by men and women of education, whose convictions 
I could not adopt, whose injustice I believed I felt, though I 
was unable to make it plain to myself. Allusions to the pithy 
biblical texts were to be forbidden me, as well as the use of 
the honest-hearted expressions from the Chronicles. I had to 
forget that I had read the Kaiser von Kaisersberg, and eschew 
the use of proverbs, which nevertheless, instead of much fiddle- 
faddle, just hit the nail upon the head ; all this, which I had 
appropriated to myself with youthful ardour, I was now to do 
without ; I felt myself paralyzed to the core, and scarcely 
knew any more how I had to express myself on the commonest 
things. I was told, besides, that one should speak as one 
writes, and write as one speaks ; while, to me, speaking and 
writing seemed once for all two different things, each of which 
might well maintain its own rights. And even in the Misnian 
dialect had I to hear many things which would have made no 
great figure on paper. 

Every one who perceives in this the influence which men 
aiid women of education, the learned, and other persons who 
take pleasure in refined society, so decidedly exercise over a 
young student, would be immediately convinced that we were 
in Leipzig, even if it had not been mentioned. Each one of 
the German universities has a particular character : for, as no 
universal cultivation can pervade our fatherland, every place 
adheres to its own fashion, and carries out, even to the last, 



212 TKUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

its own characteristic peculiarities; exactly the same thing 
holds good of the universities. In Jena and Halle roughness 
had been carried to the highest pitch : bodily strength, skill 
in fighting, the wildest self-help was there the order of the 
day ; and such a state of affairs can only be maintained and 
propagated by the most universal riot. The relations of the 
students to the inhabitants of those cities, various as they 
might be, nevertheless agreed in this, that the wild stranger 
had no regard for the citizen, and looked upon himself as a 
peculiar being, privileged to all sorts of freedom and insolence-. 
In Leipzig, on the contrary, a student could scarcely be 
anything else than polite, as soon as he wished to stand on 
any footing at all with the rich, well-bred, and punctilious 
inhabitants. 

All politeness, indeed, when it does not present itself as the 
flowering of a great and comprehensive mode of life, must ap 
pear restrained, stationary, and from some points of view, 
perhaps, absurd ; and so those wild huntsmen from the Saale * 
thought they had a great superiority over the tame shepherds 
on the Pleisse.f Zacharia s Renommist will always be a valu 
able document, from which the manner of life and thought at 
that time rises visibly forth ; as in general his poems must be 

welcome to every one who wishes to form for himself a con- 

/ 

ceptioii of the then prevailing state of social life and manners, 
which \vas indeed feeble, but amiable on account of its in 
nocence and childlike simplicity. 

All manners which result from the given relations of a 
common existence are indestructible, and, in my time, many 
things still reminded us of Zacharia s epic poem. Only one 
of our fellow- academicians thought himself rich and indepen 
dent enough to snap his fingers at public opinion. He drank 
acquaintance with all the hackney-coachmen, whom he allowed 
to sit inside the coach as if they were gentlemen, while he 
drove them 011 the box, thought it a great joke to upset 
them now and then, and contrived to satisfy them for their 
smashed vehicles as well as for their occasional bruises ; but 
otherwise he did no harm to any one, seeming only to make 
a mock of the public en masse. Once, on a most beautiful 
promenade- day, he and a comrade of his seized upon the don- 

* The river on which Halle is built. Trans. 
f The river that flows by Leipzig. Trans 



STUDENT-LIFE AT LEIPZIG. 213 

keys of the miller in St. Thomas s-square ; well-dressed, and in 
their shoes and stockings, they rode around the city with the 
greatest solemnity, stared at by all the promenaders, with 
whom the glacis was swarming. When some sensible persons 
remonstrated with him on the subject, he assured them, quite 
unembarrassed, that he only wanted to see how the Lord 

V 

Christ might haye looked in a like case. Yet he found no 
imitators, and few companions. 

For the student of any wealth and standing had every 
reason to show himself attentive to the mercantile class, and 
to be the more solicitous about the proper external forms, as the 
colony* exhibited a model of French manners. The profes 
sors, opulent both from their private property and from, their 
liberal salaries, were not dependent upon their scholars, and 
many subjects of the state, educated at the Government 
schools or other gymnasia, and hoping for preferment, did 
not venture to throw off the traditional customs. The neigh 
bourhood of Dresden, the attention paid to us from thence, 
and the true piety of the superintendent of the course of study, 
could not be without a moral, nay, a religious influence. 

At first this kind of life was not repugnant to me ; my 
letters of introduction had given me the entree into good 
families, whose circle of relatives also received me well. But 
as I was soon forced to feel that the company had much to find 
fault with in me, and that after dressing myself in their fashion, 
I must now talk according to their tongue also, and as, more 
over, I could plainly see that I was, on the other hand, but 
little benefited by the instruction and mental improvement I 
had promised myself from my academical residence, I began to 
be lazy, and to neglect the social duties of visiting, and other 
attentions, and indeed I should have sooner withdrawn, from 
all such connexions, had not fear and esteem bound me fast to 
Hofrath Bohme, and confidence and affection to his wife. 
The husband, unfortunately, had not the happy gift of dealing 
with young people, of winning their confidence, and of guid 
ing them, for the moment, as occasion might require. When 
I visited him I never got any good by it ; his wife, on the 
contrary, showed a genuine interest in me. Her ill health 

* Leipzig was so called, because a large and influential portion of its 
citizens were sprung from a colony of Huguenots, who settled there after 
the revocation of the edict of Nantes. American Note. 



214 TRUTH AND POETBY ; FEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

kept her constantly at home. She invited me to spend many 
an evening with her, and knew how to direct and improve me 
in many little external particulars ; for my manners were good, 
indeed, but I was not yet master of what is properly termed 
etiquette. Only one female friend spent the evenings with her ; 
but she was more dictatorial and pedantic, for which reason 
she displeased me excessively, and, out of spite to her, I often 
resumed those unmannerly habits from which the other had 
already weaned me. Nevertheless she always had patience 
enough with me, taught me piquet, ombre, and similar games, 
the knowledge and practice of which is held indispensable in 
society. 

But it was in the matter of taste that Madame Bohme had 
the greatest influence upon me ; in a negative way truly, yet 
one in which she agreed perfectly with the critics. The 
Gottsched waters* had inundated the German world with a 
true deluge, which threatened to rise up even over the highest 
mountains. It takes a long time for such a flood to subside 
again, for the mire to dry away ; and as in any epoch there 
are numberless aping poets, so the imitation of the flat and 
watery produced a chaos, of which now scarcely a notion 
remains. To find out that trash was trash was hence the 
greatest sport, yea, the triumph of the critics of those days. 
Whoever had only a little common sense, was superficially ac 
quainted with the ancients, and was somewhat more familiar 
with the moderns, thought himself provided with a standard 
scale which he could everywhere apply. Madame Bohme 
was an educated woman, who opposed the trivial, weak, and 
commonplace ; she was, besides, the wife of a man who lived 
on bad terms with poetry in general, and would not even allow 
that of which she perhaps might have somewhat approved. 
She listened, indeed, for some time, with patience, when I ven 
tured to recite to her the verse or prose of famous poets, who 
already stood in good repute, for then, as always, I knew by 
heart everything that chanced in any degree to please me ; 
but her complaisance was not of long duration. The first 
whom she outrageously abused were the poets of the Weisse 
school, who were just then often quoted with great applause, 
and had delighted me very particularly. If I looked more 

* That is to say, the influence of Gottsched on German literature, of 
which more is said in the next book. Trans. 



GERMAN POETRY. 215 

closely into the matter, I could not say she was wrong. I had 
sometimes even ventured to repeat to her, though anony 
mously, some of my own poems ; but these fared no better 
than the rest of the set. And thus, in a short time, the beau 
tiful variegated meadows at the foot of the German Parnassus, 
where I was fond of luxuriating, were mercilessly mowed 
down, and I was even compelled to toss about the drying hay 
myself, and to ridicule that as lifeless which, a short time 
before, had given me such lively joy. 

Without knowing it, Professor Morns came to strengthen 
her instructions. He was an uncommonly gentle and friendly 
man, with whom I became acquainted at the table of Hofrath 
Ludwig, ond who received me very pleasantly when I begged 
the privilege of visiting him. Now while making inquiries of 
him concerning antiquity, I did not conceal from him what 
delighted me among the moderns ; when he spoke about such 
things with more calmness, but, what was still worse, with 
more profundity than Madame Bohme ; and he thus opened 
my eyes, at first to my greatest chagrin, but afterwards to my 
surprise, and at last to my edification. 

Besides this, there came the Jeremiads, with which Gel- 
lert, in his Practicum, was wont to warn us against poetry. 
He wished only for prose essays, and always criticised these 
first. Verses he treated as a sorry addition, and what was 
the worst of all, even my prose found little favour in his eyes ; 
for, after my old fashion, I used always to lay, as the foundation, 
a little romance, which I loved to work out in the epistolary 
form. The subjects were impassioned, the style went beyond 
ordinary prose, and the contents probably did not display 
any very deep knowledge of mankind in the author ; and so 
I stood in very little favour with our professor, although he 
carefully looked over my labours as well as those of the 
others, corrected them with red ink, and here and there added 
a moral remark. Many leaves of this kind, which I kept for 
a long time with satisfaction, have unfortunately, in the course 
of years, at last disappeared from among my papers. 

If elderly persons wish to play the pedagogue properly, 
they should neither prohibit nor render disagreeable to a 
young man anything which gives him pleasure, of whatever 
kind it may be, unless, at the same time, they have something 
else to put in its place, or can contrive a substitute. Every- 



216 TRUTH AJN T D POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIPE. 

body protested against my tastes and inclinations ; and, on 
the other hand, what they commended to me, lay either so 
far from me that I could not perceive its excellencies, or stood 
so near me that I thought it not a whit better than what they 
inveighed against. I thus became thoroughly perplexed on 
the subject, and promised myself the best results from a lec 
ture of Emesti s on Cicero de Oratore. I learned something, 
indeed, from this lecture, but was not enlightened on the 
subject which particularly concerned me. I required a 
standard of opinion, and thought I perceived that nobody 
possessed it ; for no one agreed with another, even when they 
brought forward examples ; and where were we to get a set 
tled judgment, when they managed to reckon up against a 
man like Wieland so many faults in his amiable writings, 
which so completely captivated us younger folks ? 

Amid this manifold distraction, this dismemberment of my 
existence and my studies, it happened that I took my dinners 
at Hofrath Ludwig s. He was a medical man, a botanist, 
and his company, with the exception of Morus, consisted of 
physicians just commencing or near the completion of their 
studies. Now during these hours I heard no other conversa 
tion than about medicine or natural history, and my imagina 
tion was drawn over into quite a new field. I heard the 
names of Haller, Linnseus, Buffon, mentioned with great 
respect ; and even if disputes often arose about mistakes into 
which it was said they had fallen, all agreed in the end to 
honour the acknowledged abundance of their merits. The 
subjects were entertaining and important, and enchained my 
attention. By degrees I became familiar with many names 
and a copious terminology, which I caught up the more wil 
lingly as I was afraid to write down a rhyme, however spon 
taneously it presented itself, or to read a poem, for I was 
fearful that it might please me at the time, and that perhaps 
immediately afterwards, like so much else, I should be forced 
to pronounce it bad. 

This uncertainty of taste and judgment disquieted me 
more and more every day, so that at last I fell into despair. 
I had brought with me those of my youthful labours which 
I thought the best, partly because I hoped to get some credit 
by them, partly that I might be able to test my progress with 
greater certainty ; but I found myself in the miserable situation 



DESTRUCTION OF JUVENILE POEMS. 217 

in which one is placed when a complete change of mind is 
required, a renunciation of all that one has hitherto loved and 
found good. However, after some time, and many struggles, 
I conceived so great a contempt for my labours, begun and 
ended, that one day I burnt up poetry and prose, plans, 
sketches, and projects all together on the kitchen hearth, 
and threw our good old landlady into no small fright and 
anxiety by the smoke which filled the whole house. 



SEVENTH BOOK. 



ABOUT the condition of German literature at that time so 
much has been written, and that so sufficiently, that every one 
who takes any interest in it can be completely informed ; the 
judgments of it are now pretty well agreed ; and what at pre 
sent I intend to say piece-meal and disconnectedly concerning 
it, relates not so much to how it was constituted in itself, as 
to how it stood towards me. I will therefore first speak of 
those things by which the public is particularly excited ; of 
those two hereditary foes of all comfortable life, and of all 
cheerful, self-sufficient, living poetry: I mean, satire and 
criticism. 

In quiet times every one will live after his own fashion ; the 
citizen will carry on his trade or his business, and enjoy the 
fruits of it afterwards ; thus will the author too willingly com 
pose something, publish his labours, and since he thinks he has 
done something good and useful, hope for praise, if not reward. 
In this tranquillity the citizen is disturbed by the satirist, the 
author by the critic, and peaceful society is thus put into a 
disagreeable agitation. 

The literary epoch in which I was born was developed out 
of the preceding one by opposition. Germany, so long inun 
dated by foreign people, interpenetrated by other nations, 
directed to foreign languages in learned and diplomatic trans 
actions, could not possibly cultivate her own. Together with 
so many new ideas, innumerable strange words were obtruded 
necessarily and unnecessarily upon her, and even for objects 
already known, people were induced to make use of foreign 
expressions and turns of language. The German, having run 
wild for nearly two hundred years in an unhappy tumultuary 
state, went to school to the French to learn mariners, and to 
the Romans in order to express himself properly. But this 
was to be done in the mother-tongue, when the literal appli 
cation of those idioms, and their half-Germanization, made 
both the social and business style ridiculous. Besides this, 



USKOW. 219 

v 

they adopted without moderation the similes of the southern 
languages, and employed them most extravagantly. Just so 
they transferred the stately deportment of the prince-like citi 
zens of Rome to the learned German small-town officers, and 
were at home nowhere, least of all with themselves. 

But as in this epoch works of genius had already appeared, 
the German sense of freedom and joy also began to stir itself. 
This, accompanied by a genuine earnestness, insisted that men 
should write purely and naturally, without the intermixture of 
foreign words, and as common intelligible sense dictated. By 
these praiseworthy endeavours, however, the doors and gates 
were thrown open to an extended national insipidity, nay, the 
dike was dug through by which the great deluge was shortly 
to rush in. Meanwhile, a stiff pedantry long stood its ground 
in all the four faculties, until at last, much later, it fled for 
refuge from one of them into another. 

Men of parts, children of nature looking freely about them, 
had therefore two objects on which they could exercise them 
selves, against which they could labour, and, as the matter 
was of no great importance, give a vent to their petulance ; 
these were : a language disfigured by foreign words, forms, 
and turns of speech on the one hand, and the worthlessness of 
such writings as had been careful to keep themselves free from 
those faults on the other, though it occurred to nobody, that 
while they were battling against one evil, the other was called 
on for assistance. 

LISKOW, a daring young man, first ventured to attack by 
name a shallow, silly writer, whose awkward demeanour soon 
gave him an opportunity to proceed still more severely. He 
then went further, and constantly aimed his scorn at particular 
persons and objects, whom he despised and sought to render 
despicable, nay, even persecuted them with passionate hatred. 
But his career was short ; for he soon died, and was gradually 
forgotten as a restless, irregular youth. The talent and cha 
racter shown in what he did, although he had accomplished 
little, may have seemed valuable to his countrymen : for the 
Germans have always shown a peculiar pious kindliness to 
talents of good promise, when prematurely cut off*. Suffice it 
to say, that Liskow was very early praised and recommended 
to us as an excellent satirist, who could have attained a rank 
even above the universally-beloved Rabener. Here, indeed, 



220 TRUTH AiS D POETKY ; FKOM MY OWN LIFE. 

we saw ourselves no better off than before : for we could dis 
cover nothing in his writings, except that he had found the 
silly, silly, which seemed to us quite a matter of course. 

RABENER, well educated, grown, up under good scholastic in 
struction, of a cheerful, and by no means passionate or malicious 
disposition, took up general satire. His censure of the so- 
called vices and follies springs from the clear views of a quiet 
common sense, and from a fixed moral conception of what the 
world ought to be. His demmciation of faults and failings is 
harmless and cheerful ; and in order to excuse even the slight 
boldness of his writings, it is supposed that the improving of 
fools by ridicule is no fruitless undertaking. 

Rabener s personal character will not easily appear again. 
As an able, punctual man of business, he does his duty, and 
thus gains the good opinion of his fellow-townsmen and the 
confidence of his superiors ; along with which, he gives him 
self up, by way of recreation, to a want of esteem for all that 
immediately surrounds him. Pedantic literati, vain youngsters, 
every sort of narrowness and conceit, he banters rather than 
satirizes, and even his banter expresses no contempt. Just in 
the same way does he jest about his own condition, his mis 
fortune, his life, and his death. 

There is little of the aesthetic in the manner in which this 
writer treats his subjects. In external forms he is indeed 
varied enough, but throughout he makes too much use of direct 
irony, namely, in praising the blameworthy and blaming the 
praiseworthy, whereas this figure of speech should be used but 
extremely seldom ; for, in the long run, it becomes annoying to 
clear-sighted men, perplexes the weak, while indeed it pleases 
the great middle class, who, without any special expense of 
mind, can fancy themselves more knowing than others. But 
all that he brings before us, and however he does it, alike bears 
witness to his rectitude, cheerfulness, and equanimity, so that 
we always feel prepossessed in his favour. The unbounded 
applause of his own times was a consequence of such moral 
excellencies. 

That people looked for originals to his general descriptions 
and found them, was natural ; that individuals complained of 
him, followed from the above ; his over-long apologies that 
his satire is not personal, prove the spite which has been pro 
voked. Some of his letters crown, him at once as a man and 



KABENER. 221 

an author. The confidential epistle in which he describes the 
siege of Dresden, and how he loses his house, his effects, his 
writings, and his wigs, without having his equanimity in the 
least shaken or his cheerfulness clouded, is highly valuable, 
although his contemporaries and fellow- citizens could not for 
give him his happy turn of mind. The letter where he speaks 
of the decay of his strength and of his approaching death is in 
the highest degree worthy of respect, and Rabener deserves to 
be honoured as a saint by all cheerful intelligent men, who 
cheerfully resign themselves to earthly events. 

I tear myself away from him reluctantly, yet I would make 
this remark : his satire refers throughout to the middle- class ; 
he lets us see here and there that he is also well acquainted 
with the higher ranks, but does not hold it advisable to come 
in contact with them. It may be said, that he has had no 
successor, that no one has been found who could consider him 
self equal, or even similar to him. 

Now for criticism ! and first of all for the theoretic attempts. 
It is not going too far when we say that the ideal had, at that 
time, escaped out of the world into religion ; it scarcely even 
made its appearance in moral philosophy ; of a highest prin 
ciple of art no one had a notion. They put Gottsched s Critical 
Art of Poetry into our hands ; it was useful and instructive 
enough, for it gave us a historical information of all the kinds 
of poetry, as well as of rhythm and its different movements ; 
the poetic genius was presupposed! But besides that the 
poet was to have acquirements and even learning, he should 
possess taste, and everything else of that kind. They directed 
us at last to Horace s Art of Poetry ; we gazed at single golden 
maxims of this invaluable work, but did not know in the least 
what to do with it as a whole, or how we should use it. 

The Swiss stepped forth as Gottsched s antagonists ; they 
must take it into their heads to do something different, to 
accomplish something better : accordingly we heard that they 
were, in fact, superior. BKEITINGER S Critical Art of Poetry 
was taken in hand. Here we reached a wider field, but, pro 
perly speaking, only a greater labyrinth, which was so much 
the more tiresome, as an able man, in whom we had confidence, 
was driving us about in it. Let a brief review justify these 
words. 

For poetry in itself they had been able to find no funda- 



222 TBUTH AND POETRY ; TEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

mental axiom ; it was too spiritual and too volatile. Painting, 
an art which one could hold fast with one s eyes, and follow 
step by step with the external senses, seemed more favourable 
for such an end ; the English and French had already theorized 
about plastic art, and by a comparison drawn from this, it was 
thought that poetry might be grounded. The former placed 
images before the eyes, the latter before the fancy ; poetical 
images, therefore, were the first thing which was taken into 
consideration. People began with comparisons, descriptions 
followed, and only that was expressed which had always been 
apparent to the external senses. 

Images, then ! But where should these images be got ex 
cept from nature ? The painter professedly imitated nature ; 
why not the poet also? But nature, as she lies before us, 
cannot be imitated : she contains so much that is insignificant 
and worthless, that one must make a selection ; but what de 
termines the choice ? one must select that which is important ; 
but what is important ? 

To answer this question the Swiss may have taken a long 
time to consider : for they came to a notion, which is indeed 
singular, but clever, and even comical, inasmuch as they say, 
the new is always the most important : and after they have 
considered this for a while, they discover that the marvellous 
is always newer than everything else. 

They had now pretty well collected their poetical requisi 
tions ; but they had still to consider that the marvellous might 
also be empty and without relation to man. But this relation, 
demanded as necessary, must be a moral one, from which the 
improvement of mankind should manifestly follow, and thus a 
poem had reached its utmost aim when, with everything else 
accomplished, it was useful besides. They now wished to test 
the different kinds of poetry according to all these requisites ; 
those which imitated nature, besides being marvellous, and at 
the same time of a moral aim and use, were to rank as the first 
and highest. And after much deliberation this great pre 
eminence was at last ascribed, with the highest degree of con 
viction, to JEsop s fables ! 

Strange as such a deduction may now appear, it had the 
most decided influence on the best minds. That GELLERT 
and subsequently LICHTWEB devoted themselves to this de 
partment, that even LESSING attempted to labour in it, that 






BODMER -BREITINGEE GTJENTHER. 223 

so many others turned their talents towards it, speaks for the 
confidence which this species of poetry had gained. Theory 
and practice always act upon each other; one can see from 
their works what is the men s opinion; and, from their opinions, 
predict what they will do. 

Yet we must not dismiss our Swiss theory without doing it 
justice. BODMER, with all the pains he took, remained theo 
retically and practically a child all his life. BREITINGEE, was 
an able, learned, sagacious man, whom when he looked rightly 
about him, the essentials of a poem did not all escape ; nay, it 
can be shown that he may have dimly felt the deficiencies of his 
system. Remarkable, for instance, is his query : " Whether 
a certain descriptive poem by Konig, on the Review-camp 
of Augustus the Second, is properly a poem ?" and the answer 
to it displays good sense. But it may serve for his complete 
justification that he, starting from a false point, on a circle 
almost run out already, still struck upon the main principle, and 
at the end of his book finds himself compelled to recommend 
as additions, so to speak, the representation of manners, cha 
racter, passions, in short, the whole inner man ; to which, 
indeed, poetry pre-eminently belongs. 

It may well be imagined into what perplexity young minds 
felt themselves thrown by such dislocated maxims, half- under 
stood laws, and shivered up dogmas. We adhered to examples, 
and there, too, were no better off; foreigners as well as the 
ancients stood too far from us, and from the best native poets 
always peeped out a decided individuality, to the good points 
of which we could not lay claim, and into the faults of which 
we could not but be afraid of falling. For him who felt any 
thing productive in himself it was a desperate condition. 

When one considers closely what was wanting in the Ger 
man poetry, it was a material, and that, too, a national one ; 
there was never a lack of talent. Here we make mention 
only of GUENTHEB, who may be called a poet in the full sense 
of the word. A decided talent, endowed with sensuousness, 
imagination, memory, the gifts of conception and representa 
tion, productive in the highest degree, ready at rhythm, inge 
nious, witty, and of varied information besides ; he pos 
sessed, in short, all the requisites for creating, by means of 
poetry, a second life within life, even within common real life. 
We admire the great facility with which, in his occasional 



224 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN UFE. 

poems, lie elevates all circumstances by the feelings, and 
embellishes them with suitable sentiments, images, and his 
torical and fabulous traditions. Their roughness and wild- 
ness belong to his time, his mode of life, and especially to his 
character, or if one would have it so, his want of fixed cha 
racter. He did not know how to curb himself, and so his life, 
like his poetry, melted away from him. 

By his vacillating conduct, Giinther had trifled away the 
good fortune of being appointed at the court of Augustus the 
Second, where, in addition to every other species of ostenta 
tion, they were also looking about for a court-poet, who could 
give elevation and grace to their festivities, and immortalize 
a transitory pomp. VON KOENIG was more mannerly and 
more fortunate ; he filled this post with dignity and applause. 

In all sovereign states the material for poetry comes down 
wards from above, and the Review-camp at Miililberg (Das 
Lustlager bei Miililberg) was, perhaps, the first worthy object, 
provincial, if not national, which presented itself to a poet. 
Two kings saluting one another in the presence of a great host, 
their whole courts and military state around them, well- 
appointed troops, a mock-fight, fetes of all kinds, this is 
business enough for the outward sense, and overflowing mate 
rial for delineating and descriptive poetry. 

This subject had, indeed, the internal defect, that it was 
only pomp and show, from which no real action could result. 
None except the very first distinguished themselves, and even 
if they had done so, the poet could not render any one con 
spicuous ]est he should offend the others. He had to consult 
the Court and State Calendar, and the delineation of the per 
sons therefore went off pretty drily ; nay, even his contem 
poraries very strongly reproached him with having described 
the horses better than the men. But should not this redound 
to his credit, that he showed his art just where an object for 
it presented itself? The main difficulty, too, seems soon to 
have manifested itself to him since the poem never advanced 
bevond the first canto. 

%/ 

Amidst such studies and reflections, an unexpected event 
surprised me, and frustrated my laudable design of becoming 
acquainted with our new literature from the beginning. My 
countryman, JOHN GEORGE SCHLOSSER, after spending his 
academical years with industry and exertion, had repaired to 



SCHLOSSER. 225 

Frankfort-on-the-Maine, in the customary profession of an 
advocate ; but his mind, aspiring and seeking after the uni 
versal, could not reconcile itself to this situation for many 
reasons. He accepted, without hesitation, an office as private 
secretary to the Duke LUDWTG of WURTEMBEBG, who re 
sided in Treptow; for the Prince was named among those 
great men who, in a noble and independent manner, purposed 
to enlighten themselves, their families, and the world, and to 
unite for higher aims. It was this Prince Ludwig who, to 
ask advice about the education of his children, had written to 
Rousseau, whose well-known answer began with the suspicious- 
looking phrase " Si favais le malheur d etre ne prince" 

Not only in the affairs of the Prince, but also in the educa 
tion of his children, Schlosser was now willingly to assist in 
word and deed, if not to superintend them. This noble young 
man, who harboured the best will, and laboured after a perfect 
purity of morals, would have easily kept men from him by a 
-certain dry austerity, if his fine and rare literary cultivation, his 
knowledge of languages, and his facility at expressing himself 
by writing, both in verse and prose, had not attracted every 
one, and made living with him more agreeable. It had been 
announced to me that he would pass through Leipzig, and I 
expected him with longing. He came and put up at a little 
inn or wine-house that stood in the EruTil (Marsh), and the 
host of which was named Schonkopf. This man had a Frank 
fort woman for his wife, and although he entertained few 
persons during the rest of the year, and could lodge no guests 
in his little house, yet at fair-time he was visited by many 
Prankforters, who used to eat, and, in case of need, even take 
quarters there also. Thither I hastened to seek after Schlosser, 
w r hen he had sent to inform me of his arrival. I scarcely 
remembered having seen him before, and found a young, well- 
formed man, with a round, compressed face, without the fea 
tures losing their sharpness on that account. The form of his 
rounded forehead, between black eyebrows and locks, indi 
cated earnestness, sternness, and perhaps obstinacy. He 
was, in a certain measure, the opposite of myself, and this 
very thing doubtless laid the foundation of our lasting Mend- 
ship. I had the greatest respect for his talents, the more so as 
I very well saw that in the certainty with which he acted and 
produced, he was completely my superior. The respect and 

Q 



226 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

the confidence which I showed him confirmed his affection, 
and increased the indulgence he was compelled to have for 
my lively, impetuous, and ever-excitable disposition, in such 
contrast with his own. He studied the English writers dili 
gently ; Pope, if not his model, was his aim, and in opposition 
to that author s Essay on Man, he had written a poem in like 
form and measure, which was to give the Christian religion 
the triumph over the deism of the other work. From the 
great store of papers which he carried with him, he showed 
me poetical and prose compositions in all languages, which, 
as they challenged me to imitation, once more gave me infinite 
disquietude. Yet I contrived to help myself immediately by 
activity. I wrote German, French, English and Italian poems, 
addressed to him, the subject-matter of which I took from our 
conversations, which were always important and instructive. 

Schlosser did not wish to leave Leipzig without having seen 
face to face the men who had a name. I willingly took him 
to those I knew ; with those whom I had not yet visited, I in 
this way became honourably acquainted, since he was received 
with distinction as a well-informed man of education, of 
already established character, and well knew how to pay for 
the outlay of conversation. I cannot pass over our visit to 
GOTTSCHED, as it exemplifies the character and manners of that 
man. He lived very respectably in the first story of the 
Golden Bear, where the elder Breitkopf, on account of the 
great advantage which Gottsched s writings, translations, and 
other aids had brought to the trade, had promised him a 
lodging for life. 

We were announced. The servant led us into a large 
chamber, saying his master would come immediately. Now 
whether we misunderstood a gesture which he made, I cannot 
say ; it is enough, we thought he directed us into an adjoin 
ing room. We entered, and to a singular scene ; for, on the 
instant, Gottsched, that tall, broad, gigantic man, came in at 
the opposite door in a morning-gown of green damask lined 
with red taffeta ; but his monstrous head was bald and un 
covered. This, however, was to be immediately provided for ; 
the servant sprang in at a side-door with a great full-bottomed 
wig in his hand (the curls came down to the elbows), and 
handed the head- ornament to his master with gestures of 
terror. Gottsched, without manifesting the least vexation, 



TELLOW-BOAHDEBS AT LEIPZIG. 227 

raised the wig from the servant s arm with his left hand, 
and while he very dexterously swung it up on his head, gave 
the poor fellow such a box on the ear with his right paw, that 
the latter, as often happens in a comedy, went spinning out 
at the door; whereupon the respectable old grandfather 
invited us quite gravely to be seated, and kept up a pretty 
long discourse with good grace. 

As long as Schlosser remained in Leipzig, I dined daily 
with him, and became acquainted with a very pleasant set of 
boarders. Some Livonians, and the son of HERMANN (chief 
court-preacher in Dresden), afterwards burgermaster in Leip 
zig, and their tutors; HOFRATH PFEIL, author of the Count 
von P., a continuation of Gellert s Swedish Countess ; Z AC HA 
BILE, a brother of the poet ; and KREBEL, editor of geogra 
phical and genealogical manuals ; all these were polite, cheer 
ful, and friendly men. Zacharia was the most quiet ; Pfeil, 
an elegant man, who had something almost diplomatic about 
him, yet without affectation, and with great good-humour; 
Krebel, a genuine Falstaff. tall, corpulent, fair, with pro 
minent, merry eyes, as bright as the sky, always happy and in 
good spirits. These persons all treated me in the most hand 
some manner, partly on Schlosser s account partly, too, on 
account of my own frank good-humour and obliging disposition; 
and it needed no great persuasion to make me partake of their 
table in future. In fact, I remained with them after Schlos 
ser s departure, deserted Ludwig s table, and found myself so 
much the better off in this society, which was limited to a 
certain number, as I was very well pleased with the daughter 
of the family, a very neat, pretty girl, and had opportunities 
to exchange friendly glances with her, a comfort which I had 
neither sought nor found by accident since the mischance with 
Gretchen. I spent the dinner-hours with my friends cheer 
fully and profitably. Krebel, indeed, loved me, and continued 
to teaze me and stimulate me in moderation ; Pfeil, on the 
contrary, showed his earnest affection for me by trying to 
guide and settle my judgment upon many points. 

During this intercourse, I perceived through conversation, 
through examples, and through my own reflections, that the 
first step in delivering ourselves from the wishy-washy, long- 
winded, empty epoch, could be taken only by defmiteness, 
precision, and brevity. In the style which had hitherto pre- 

Q2 



228 TKTJTH AND POETKY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

vailed, one could not distinguish the commonplace from what 
was better, since all were brought down to a level with each 
other. Authors had already tried to escape from this wide 
spread disease, with more or less success. HALLER and 
RAMLER were inclined to compression by nature ; LESSING 
and WJELAND were led to it by reflection. The former be 
came by degrees quite epigrammatical in his poems, terse in 
Minna, laconic in Emilia Galotti, it was not till afterwards 
that he returned to that serene naivete which becomes him so 
well in Nathan. Wieland, who had been occasionally prolix 
in Agathon, Don Sylvio, and the Comic Tales, becomes con 
densed and precise to a wonderful degree, as well as exceed 
ingly graceful, in Musarion and Idris. KLOPSTOCK, in the first 
cantos of the Messiah, is not without diffuseness ; in his Odes 
and other minor poems he appears compressed, as also in his 
tragedies. By his emulation of the ancients, especially Tacitus, 
he sees himself constantly forced into narrower limits, by which 
he at last becomes obscure and unpalatable. GERSTENBERG, 
a fine but eccentric talent, also distinguishes himself; his 
merit is appreciated, but on the whole he gives little pleasure. 
GLEIM, diffuse and easy by nature, is scarcely once concise 
in his war-songs. RAMLER is properly more a critic than 
a poet. He begins to collect what the Germans have accom 
plished in lyric poetry. He now finds that scarcely one poem 
fully satisfies him ; he must leave out, arrange, and alter, that 
the things may have some shape or other. By this means he 
makes himself almost as many enemies as there are poets and 
amateurs, since every one, properly speaking, recognizes him 
self only in his defects ; and the public interests itself sooner 
for a faulty individuality than for that which is produced or 
amended according to a universal law of taste. Rhythm lay 
yet in the cradle, and no one knew of a method to shorten its 
childhood. Poetical prose came into the ascendant. GESSNER, 
and KLOPSTOCK excited many imitators ; others, again, still 
demanded an intelligible metre, and translated this prose into 
rhythm. But even these gave nobody satisfaction ; for they 
were obliged to omit and add, and the prose original always 
passed for the better of the two. But the more, with all this, 
conciseness is aimed at, the more does a judgment become pos 
sible, since that which is important, being more closely com 
pressed, allows a certain comparison at last. It happened, 



WIELAND. 229 

also, at the same time, that many kinds of truly poetical forms 
arose ; for as they tried to represent only what was necessary 
in the objects they wished to imitate, they were forced to do 
justice to every one of these ; and in this manner, though no 
one did it consciously, the modes of representation multiplied 
themselves, among which, indeed, were some which were really 
caricatures, while many an attempt proved unsuccessful. 

Without question, WIELAISTD possessed the finest natural 
gifts of all. He had early cultivated himself thoroughly in 
those ideal regions where youth so readily lingers ; but when, 
by what is called experience, by the events of the world and 
women, these were rendered distasteful to him, he threw him 
self on the side of the actual, and pleased himself and others 
with the contest of the two worlds, where, in light skirmish 
ing between jest and earnest, his talent displayed itself most 
beautifully. How many of his brilliant productions fall into the 
time of my academic years ! Musarion had the most effect upon 
me, and I can yet remember the place and the very spot where 
I got sight of the first proof-sheet, which Oeser gave me. 
Here it was that I believed I saw antiquity again living and 
fresh. Everything that is plastic in Wieland s genius here 
showed itself in its highest perfection ; and when that Phanias- 
Timon, condemned to an unhappy insipidity, finally reconciles 
himself to his mistress and to the world, one can well, with 
him, live through the misanthropical epoch. For the rest, we 
willingly conceded to these works a cheerful aversion from those 
exalted sentiments, which, by reason of their easy misapplica 
tion to life, are often open to the suspicion of dreaminess. 
We pardoned the author for prosecuting with ridicule what 
we held as true and reverend, the more readily, as he thereby 
gave us to understand that it caused him continual trouble. 

How miserably criticism then received such labours may 
be seen from the first volumes of the Universal German 
Library. Of the Comic Tales there is honourable mention ; 
but there is no trace of any insight into the character of the 
kind of poetry. The reviewer, like every one at that time, 
had formed his taste on examples. He never takes it into 
consideration that, in a judgment of such parodistical works, 
one must first of all have before one s eyes the original noble, 
beautiful object, in order to see whether the parodist has really 
gotten from it a weak and comical side, whether he has bor- 



230 TRUTH AND POETRY; PROM MY OWN LIFE. 

rowed anything from it, or, under the appearance of such an 
imitation, has perhaps given us an excellent invention of his 
own. Of all this there is not a notion, but that poems are 
praised and blamed by passages. The reviewer, as he himself 
confesses, has marked so much that pleased him. that he can 
not quote it all in print. When they even meet the highly 
meritorious translation of Shakspeare with the exclamation : 
" By rights, a man like Shakspeare should not have been trans 
lated at all ! it will be understood, without further remark, 
how infinitely the Universal German Library was behind 
hand in matters of taste, and that young people, animated by 
true feeling, had to look about them for other guiding stars. 
The material which, in this manner, more or less determined 
the form, the Germans sought everywhere. They had handled 
few national subjects, or none at all. Schlegel s Hermann 
only showed the way. The idyllic tendency extended itself 
without end. The want of distinctive character with Gessner, 
with all his great gracefulness and childlike heartiness, made 
every one think that he could do something of the same kind. 
Just in the same manner, out of the more generally human, 
some snatch those poems which should have portrayed a fo 
reign nationality, as, for instance, the Jewish pastoral poems, 
those on the patriarchs altogether, and whatever else related 
to the Old Testament. Bodmer s Noachide was a perfect 
symbol of the watery deluge that swelled high around the 
German Parnassus, and which abated but slowly. The lead 
ing-strings of Anacreon likewise allowed innumerable mediocre 
geniuses to reel about at large. The precision of Horace com 
pelled the Germans, though but slowly, to conform to him. 
Comic heroic poems, mostly after the model of Pope s Rape 
of the Lock, did not serve to bring in a better time. 

Yet I must here mention a delusion, which operated as se 
riously as it must be ridiculous when one examines it more 
closely. The Germans had now sufficient historical knowledge 
of all the kinds of poetry in which the different nations had 
distinguished themselves. This pigeon-hole work, which, pro 
perly speaking, totally destroys the inner conception of poetry, 
had been already pretty completely hammered together by 
Gottsched in his Critical Art of Poetry, and it had been shown 
at the same time that German poets, too, had already known 
how to fill up all the rubrics with excellent works. And thus 



POPULAH PHILOSOPHY. 231 

it ever went on. Each year the collection was more consider 
able, but every year one work pushed another out of the place 
in which it had hitherto shone. We now possessed, if not 
Homers, yet Yirgils and Miltons ; if not a Pindar, yet a Ho 
race ; of Theocrituses there was no lack ; and thus they 
weighed themselves by comparisons from without, whilst the 
mass of poetical works always increased, so that at last there 
could be a comparison from within. 

Now, though matters of taste stood on a very uncertain foot 
ing, there could be no dispute but that, within the Protestant 
part of Germany and of Switzerland, what is generally called 
common- sense began to bestir itself briskly at that epoch. The 
scholastic philosophy which always has the merit of pro 
pounding according to received axioms, in a favourite order, 
and under fixed rubrics, everything about which man can at 
all inquire, had, by the frequent darkness and apparent use- 
lessness of its subject-matter, by its unseasonable application 
of a method in itself respectable, and by its too great extension 
over so many subjects, made itself foreign to the mass, unpa 
latable, and at last dispensable. Many a one became con 
vinced that nature had endowed him with as great a portion 
of good and straightforward sense as, perchance, he required 
to form such a clear notion of objects that he could manage 
them and turn them to his own profit, and that of others, 
without laboriously troubling himself about the most universal 
problems, and inquiring how the most remote things which do 
not particularly affect us may hang together. Men made the 
trial, opened their eyes, looked straight before them, observant, 
industrious, active, and believed that when one decides upon 
and acts correctly in one s own circle, one may well presume to 
speak of other things also, which lie at a greater distance. 

In accordance with such a notion, every one was now en 
titled, not only to philosophize, but also by degrees to consider 
himself a philosopher. Philosophy, therefore, was more or 
less sound and practised common sense, which ventured to 
enter upon the universal, and to decide upon inner and outer 
experiences. A clear-sighted acuteness and an especial mode 
ration, while the middle path and fairness to all opinions was 
held to be right, procured respect and confidence for writings 
and oral statements of the sort, and thus at last philosophers 
were found in all the faculties, nay, in all classes and trades. 



232 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

In this way the theologians could not help inclining to what 
is called natural religion, and when the discussion was how far 
the light of nature may suffice to advance us in the knowledge 
of God and the improving and ennobling of ourselves, they 
commonly ventured to decide in its favour without much 
scruple. According to the same principle of moderation, they 
then granted equal rights to all positive religions, by which 
they all became alike indifferent and uncertain. For the rest, 
they let everything stand, and since the Bible is so full of 
matter, that, more than any other book, it offers material for 
reflection and opportunity for meditation on human affairs, it 
could still, as before, be always laid as the foundation of all 
sermons and other religious treatises. 

But over this work, as well as over the whole body of pro 
fane writers, was impending a singular fate, which, in the lapse 
of time, was not to be averted. Hitherto it had been received 
as a matter of implicit faith, that this book of books was com 
posed in one spirit ; that it was even inspired, and, as it were, 
dictated by the Divine Spirit. Yet already for a long time 
the discrepancies of the different parts of it had been now 
cavilled at, now apologized for, by believers and unbelievers. 
English, French, and Germans had attacked the Bible with 
more or less violence, acuteness, audacity, and wantonness ; 
and just as often had it been taken under the protection of 
earnest, sound-thinking men of each nation. As for myself, I 
loved and valued it : for almost to it alone did I owe my moral 
culture, and the events, the doctrines, the symbols, the similes, 
had all impressed themselves deeply upon me, and had influ 
enced me in one way or another. These unjust, scoffing, and 
perverting attacks, therefore, disgusted me ; but people had 
already gone so far as very willingly to admit, partly as a main, 
ground for the defence of many passages, that God had accom 
modated himself to the modes of thought and power of com 
prehension in men ; that even those moved by the Spirit had 
not on that account been able to renounce their character, 
their individuality, and that Amos, a cow-herd, did not wield 
the language of Isaiah, who is said to have been a prince. 

Out of such views and convictions, especially with a con 
stantly increasing knowledge of languages, was very naturally 
developed that kind of study by which it was attempted to 
examine more accurately the oriental localities, nationalities^ 



STATE OP THEOLOGY. 233 

natural products, and phenomena, and in this manner to make 
present to one s-self that ancient time. Michaelis employed 
the whole strength of his talents and his knowledge on this 
side. Descriptions of travels became a powerful help in ex 
plaining the Holy Scriptures, and later travellers, furnished 
with numerous questions, were made, by the answers to them, 
to bear witness for the prophets and apostles. 

But whilst they were on all sides busied to bring the Holy 
Scriptures to a natural intuition, and to render peculiar modes 
of thought and representation in them more universally com 
prehensible, that by this historico- critical aspect many an 
objection might be removed, many offensive things effaced, 
and many a shallow scoffing be made ineffective, there appeared 
in some men just the opposite disposition, since these chose 
the darkest, most mysterious writings as the subject of their 
meditations, and wished, if not to elucidate them, yet to con 
firm them through internal evidence, by means of conjectures, 
calculations, and other ingenious and strange combinations, 
and so far as they contained prophecies, to prove them by the 
results, and thus to justify a faith in what was next to be 
expected. 

The venerable BEN GEL had procured a decided reception 
for his labours on the Revelations of St. John, from the fact 
that he was known as an intelligent, upright, God-fearing, 
blameless man. Deep minds are compelled to live in the past 
as well as in the future. The ordinary movements of the world 
can be of no importance to them, if they do not, in the course 
of ages up to the present, revere prophecies which have been 
revealed, and in the immediate, as well as in the most remote 
futurity, predictions still veiled. Hence arises a connexion 
that is wanting in history, which seems to give us only an 
accidental wavering backwards and forwards in a necessarily 
limited circle. Doctor CBUSIUS was one of those whom the 
prophetic part of Scripture suited more than any other, since 
it brings into action the two most opposite qualities of human 
nature, the affections, and the acuteness of the intellect. Many 
young men had devoted themselves to this doctrine, and already 
formed a respectable body, which attracted the more attention, 
as ERNESTI with his friends threatened, not to illuminate, but. 
completely to disperse the obscurity in which these delighted. 
Hence arose controversies, hatred, persecution and much that 



234 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

was unpleasant. I attached myself to the lucid party, and 
sought to appropriate to myself their principles and advan 
tages, although I ventured to forebode, that by this extremely 
praiseworthy, intelligent method of interpretation, the poetic 
contents of the writings must at last be lost along with the 
prophetical. 

But those who devoted themselves to German literature and 
the belles lettres were more nearly concerned with the efforts of 
such men, who, as JERUSALEM, ZOLLIKOFER, and SPALD- 
IKG, tried, by means of a good and pure style in their sermons 
and treatises, to gain even among persons of a certain degree 
of sense and taste, applause and attachment for religion, and 
for the moral philosophy which is so closely related to it. A 
pleasing manner of writing began to be everywhere necessary; 
and since such a manner must, above all, be comprehensible, 
so did writers arise, on many sides, who undertook to write 
about their studies and their professions clearly, perspicu 
ously, and impressively, and as well for the adepts as for the 
multitude. 

After the example of Tissot, a foreigner, the physicians also 
now began to labour zealously for the general cultivation. 
HALLER, UNZER, ZIMMERMAN had a very great influence, 
and whatever may be said against them in detail, especially 
the last, they produced a very great effect in their time. And 
mention should be made of this in history, but particularly in 
biography : for a man remains of consequence, not so far as he 
leaves something behind him, but so far as he acts and enjoys, 
and rouses others to action and enjoyment. 

The jurists, accustomed from their youth upwards to an ab 
struse style, which, in all legal papers, from the petty court of 
the Immediate Knight up to the Imperial Diet at Ratisbon, was 
still maintained in all its quaintness, could not easily elevate 
themselves to a certain freedom, the less so as the subjects of 
which they had to treat were most intimately connected with 
the external form, and consequently also with the style. Yet 
the younger YON MOSER had already shown himself an inde 
pendent and original writer, and PUTTER, by the clearness of 
his delivery, had also brought clearness into his subject, and 
the style in which he was to treat it. All that proceeded from 
his school was distinguished by this. And even the philo 
sophers, in order to be popular, now found themselves com- 



THE "IMAGE-HUNT." 235 

pelled to write clearly and intelligibly. MENDELSOHN and 
GARVE appeared, and excited universal interest and admiration. 
With the cultivation of the German language and style in 
every department, the capacity for forming a judgment also 
increased, and we admire the reviews then published of works 
upon religious and moral, as well as medical subjects ; while, 
on the contrary, we remark that the judgments of poems, and 
of whatever else may relate to the belles lettres, will be found, 
if not pitiful, at least very feeble. This holds good of the 
Literary Epistles (Liter aturbriefeti), and of the Universal Ger 
man Library, as well as of the Library of the Belles Lettres^ 
notable instances of which could easily be produced. 

No matter in how motley a manner all this might be con 
fused, still for every one who contemplated producing anything 
from himself, who would not merely take the words and phrases 
out of the mouths of his predecessors, there was nothing further 
left but, early and late, to look about him for some subject-matter 
which he might determine to use. Here, too, we were much led 
astray. People were constantly repeating a saying of KLEIST, 
which we had to hear often enough. He had sportively, in 
geniously, and truly replied to those who took him to task on 
account of his frequent lonely walks : " that he was not idle 
at such times, he was going to the image hunt." This simile 
was very suitable for a nobleman and soldier, who by it placed 
himself in contrast with the men of his rank, who did not 
neglect going out, with their guns on their shoulders, hare- 
hunting and patridge-shooting, as often as an opportunity 
presented itself. Hence we find in Kleist s poems many such 
individual images, happily seized, although not always happily 
elaborated, which in a kindly manner remind us of nature. 
But now they also recommended us, quite seriously, to go out 
on the image -hunt, which did not at last leave us wholly with 
out fruit, although Apel s Garden, the kitchen-gardens, the 
Rosenthal, Golis, Raschwitz and Konnewitz, would be the 
oddest ground to beat up poetical game in. And yet I was 
often induced by that motive to contrive that my walk should 
be solitary, and, because many objects neither beautiful nor 
sublime met the eye of the beholder, and in the truly splendid 
Rosenthal, the gnats, in the best season of the year, allowed 
no tender thoughts to arise, so did I, by unwearied, persever 
ing endeavour, become extremely attentive to the small life of 



236 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

nature, (I would use this word after tlie analogy of " stiil 
life,") and since the pretty events which one perceives within 
this circle represent but little in themselves, so I accustomed 
myself to see in them a significance, which inclined now to 
wards the symbolical, now towards the allegorical side, accord 
ingly as intuition, feeling, or reflection had the preponderance. 
I will relate one incident, in place of many. 

I was, after the fashion of humanity, in love with my name, 
and, as young uneducated people commonly do, I wrote it 
down everywhere. Once I had carved it very handsomely 
and accurately on the smooth bark of a linden-tree of mode 
rate age. The following autumn, when my affection for An 
nette was in its fullest bloom, I took the trouble to cut hers 
above it. Towards the end of the winter, in the meantime, 
like a capricious lover, I had wantonly sought many opportu 
nities to teaze her and cause her vexation ; in the spring I 
chanced to visit the spot, and the sap, which was rising 
strongly in the trees, had welled out through the incisions 
which formed her name, and which were not yet crusted over, 
and moistened with innocent vegetable tears the already 
hardened traces of my own. Thus to see her here weeping 
over me, me, who had so often called up her tears by my 
ill-conduct, filled me with confusion. At the remembrance of 
my injustice and of her love, even the tears came into my 
eyes, I hastened to implore pardon of her, doubly and trebly, 
and I turned this incident into an idyl*, which I never could 
read to myself without affection, or to others without emotion. 

While I now, like a shepherd on the Pleisse, was absorbed 
childishly enough in such tender subjects, and always chose 
only such as I could easily recall into my bosom, provision 
from a greater and more important side had long been made 
for German poets. 

The first true and really vital material of the higher order 
came into German poetry through Frederick the Great and 
the deeds of the Seven Years War. All national poetry must 
be shallow or become shallow which does not rest on that 
which is most universally human, upon the events of nations 
and their shepherds, when both stand for one man. Kings 
are to be represented in war and danger, where, by that very 
means, they appear as the first, because they determine and 

* This idyl is lost. Trans. 



GLEIM RAMLEK. 237 

share the fate of the very least, and thus become much more 
interesting than the gods themselves, who, when they have 
once determined the fates, withdraw from all participation in 
them. In this view of the subject, every nation, if it would 
be worth anything at all, must possess an epopee, to which 
the precise form of the epic poem is not necessary. 

The war-songs started by Gleim maintain so high a rank 
among German poems, because they arose with and in the 
achievements which are their subject, and because, moreover, 
their felicitous form, just as if a fellow-combatant had pro 
duced them in the loftiest moments, makes us feel the most 
complete effectiveness. 

Ramler sings the deeds of his king in a different and most 
noble manner. All his poeins are full of matter, and occupy 
us with great, heart-elevating objects, and thus already main 
tain an indestructible value. 

For the internal matter of the subject worked is the begin 
ning and end of art. It will not, indeed, be denied that 
genius, that thoroughly cultivated artistical talent, can make 
everything out of everything by its method of treatment, and 
can subdue the most refractory material. But when closely 
examined, the result is rather a trick of art than a work of 
art, which should rest upon a worthy object, that the treat 
ment of it by skill, pains, and industry, may present to us 
the dignity of the subject-matter only the more happily and 
splendidly. 

The Prussians, and with them Protestant Germanv, ac- 

t> 7 

quired thus for their literature a treasure which the opposite 
party lacked, and the want of which they have been a,ble to 
supply by no subsequent endeavours. Upon the great idea 
which the Prussian writers could well entertain of their 
king, they first established themselves, and the more zealously 
as he, in whose name they did it all, wished once for all to 
know nothing about them. Already before this, through the 
French colony, afterwards through the king s predilection for 
the literature of that nation, and for their financial institu 
tions, had a mass of French civilization come into Prussia, 
which was highly advantageous to the Germans, since by it 
they were challenged to contradiction and resistance; thus 
the very aversion of Frederick from German was a fortunate 
thing for the formation of its literary character. They did 



238 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

everything to attract the king s attention, not indeed to be 
honoured, but only noticed by him ; yet they did it in Ger 
man fashion, from an internal conviction ; they did what they 
held to be right, and desired and wished that the king should 
recognize and prize this German uprightness. That did not 
and could not happen ; for how can it be required of a king, 
who wishes to live and enjoy himself intellectually, that he 
shall lose his years in order to see what he thinks barbarous 
developed and rendered palatable too late? In matters of 
trade and manufacture, he might indeed force upon himself, 
but especially upon his people, very moderate substitutes 
instead of excellent foreign wares ; but here everything comes 
to perfection more rapidly, and it needs not a man s fife-time 
to bring such things to maturity. 

But I must here, first of all, make honourable mention of 
one work, the most genuine production of the Seven Years 
War, and of perfect North German nationality ; it is the first 
theatrical production caught from the important events of life, 
one of specific temporary value, and one which therefore pro 
duced an incalculable effect, Minna von Barnhelm. Lessiiig, 
who, in opposition to Klopstock and Gleim, was fond of cast 
ing off his personal dignity, because he was confident that he 
could at any moment seize it and take it up again, delighted 
in a dissipated life in taverns and the world, as he always 
needed a strong counterpoise to his powerfully labouring inte 
rior ; and for this reason also he had joined the suite of Gene 
ral Tauentzien. One easily discovers how the above-men 
tioned piece was generated betwixt war and peace, hatred 
and affection. It was this production which happily opened 
the view into a higher, more significant world, from the 
literary and citizen world in which poetic art had hitherto 
moved. 

The intense hatred in which the Prussians and Saxons 
stood towards each other during this war, could not be re 
moved by its termination. The Saxon now first felt, with 
true bitterness, the wounds winch the upstart Prussian had 
inflicted upon him. Political peace could not immediately 
re-establish a peace between their dispositions. But this was 
to be brought about symbolically by the above-mentioned 
drama. The grace and amiability of the Saxon ladies con 
quer the worth, the dignity, and the stubbornness of the 



GOETHE S PECULIAR TENDENCY. 239 

Prussians, and, in the principal as well as in the subordinate 
characters, a happy union of bizarre and contradictory ele 
ments is artistically represented. 

If I have put my reader in some perplexity by these cur 
sory and desultory remarks on German literature, I have suc 
ceeded in giving them a conception of that chaotic condition 
in which my poor brain found itself, when, in the conflict of 
two epochs so important for the literary fatherland, so much 
that was new crowded in upon me before I could come to 
terms with the old, so much that was old yet made me feel 
its right over me, when I believed I had already cause to 
venture on renouncing it altogether. I will at present try to 
impart, as well as possible, the way I entered on to extricate 
myself from this difficulty, if only step by step. 

The period of prolixity into which my youth had fallen, 
I had laboured through with genuine industry, in company 
with so many worthy men. The numerous quarto volumes of 
manuscript which I left behind with my father might serve 
for sufficient witnesses of this ; and what a mass of essays, rough 
draughts, and half-executed designs, had, more from despon 
dency than conviction, gone up in smoke! Now, through 
conversation, through instruction in general, through so many 
conflicting opinions, but especially through my fellow-boarder 
Hofrath Pfeil, I learned to value more and more the import 
ance of the subject-matter, and the conciseness of the treat 
ment ; without, however, being able to make it clear. to myself 
where the former was to be sought, or how the latter was to 
be attained. For, what with the great narrowness of my 
situation, what with the indifference of my companions, the 
reserve of the professors, the exclusiveness of the educated 
inhabitants, and what with the perfect insignificance of the 
natural objects, I was compelled to seek for everything within 
myself. If I now desired a true basis in feeling or reflection 
for my poems, I was forced to grasp into my own bosom ; if I 
required for my poetic representation an immediate intuition of 
an object or an event, I could not step outside the circle which 
was fitted to teach me and inspire me with an interest. In 
this view I wrote at first certain little poems, in the form of 
songs or in a freer measure ; they are founded on reflection, 
treat of the past, and for the most part take an epigrammatic 
turn. 



240 TKITTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

And thus began that tendency from which I could not 
deviate my whole life through ; namely, the tendency to turn 
into an image, into a poem, everything that delighted or 
troubled me, or otherwise occupied me, and to come to some 
certain understanding with myself upon it, that I might both 
rectify my conceptions of external things, and set my mind at 
rest about them. The faculty of doing this was necessary to 
no one more than to me, for my natural disposition whirled 
me constantly from one extreme to the other. All, therefore, 
that has been confessed by me, consists of fragments of a great 
confession, and this little book is an attempt which I have 
ventured on to render it complete. 

My early affection for Gretchen I had now transferred 
to one Annette (Aennchen), of whom I can say nothing 
more than that she was young, handsome, sprightly, loving, 
and so agreeable that she well deserved to be set up for a time 
in the shrine of the heart as a little saint, that she might 
receive all that reverence which it often causes more pleasure 
to bestow than to receive. I saw her daily without hindrance ; 
she helped to prepare the meals which I enjoyed, she brought, 
in the evening at least, the wine which I drank, and indeed 
our select club of noon-day boarders was a warranty that the 
little house, which was visited by few guests except during 
the fair, well merited its good reputation. Opportunity and 
inclination were found for various kinds of amusement. But 
as she neither could nor dared go much out of the house, the 
pastime was somewhat limited. We sang the songs of Zacha- 
ria, played the Duke Michael of Kriiger, in which a knotted 
handkerchief had to take the place of the nightingale ; and 
so, for a while, it went on quite tolerably. But since such 
connexions, the more innocent they are, afford the less 
variety in the long run, so was I seized with that wicked dis 
temper which seduces us to derive amusement from the tor 
ment of a beloved one, and to domineer over a girl s devoted- 
ness with wanton and tyrannical caprice. My ill-humour at 
the failure of my poetical attempts, at the apparent impossi 
bility of coming to a clear understanding about them, and at 
everything else that might pinch me here and there, I thought 
I might vent on her, because she truly loved me with all her 
heart, and did whatever she could to please me. By un 
founded and absurd fits of jealousy, I destroyed our most 



DIE LAI7NE DES TEELIEBTEN. 241 

delightful days both for myself and her. She endured it for 
a time with incredible patience, which I was cruel enough 
to try to the uttermost. But to my shame and despair I was 
at last forced to remark that her heart was alienated from me, 
and that I might now have good ground for the madness in 
which I had indulged without necessity and without cause. 
There were also terrible scenes between us, in which I gained 
nothing ; and I then first felt that I had truly loved her, and 
could not bear to lose her. My passion grew, and assumed 
all the forms of which it is capable under such circumstances ; 
nay, at last I even took up the role which the girl had hitherto 
played. I sought everything possible in order to be agreeable 
to her, even to procure her pleasure by means of -others ; for 
I could not renounce the hope of winning her again. But it 
was too late ! I had lost her really, and the frenzy with which 
I revenged my fault upon myself, by assaulting in various 
frantic ways my physical nature, in order to inflict* some hurt 
on my moral nature, contributed very much to the bodily 
maladies under which I lost some of the best years of my life ; 
indeed I should perchance have been completely ruined by 
this loss, had not my poetic talent here shown itself parti 
cularly helpful with its healing power. 

Already, at many intervals before, I had clearly enough 
perceived my ill-conduct. I really pitied the poor child, 
when I saw her so thoroughly wounded by me, without 
necessity. I pictured to myself so often and so circumstan 
tially, her condition and my own, and, as a contrast, the con 
tented state of another couple in our company, that at last I 
could not forbear treating this situation dramatically, as a 
painful and instructive penance. Hence arose the oldest of 
my extant dramatic labours, the little piece entitled, Die 
Laune des Verliebten ( The Lover s Caprice) ; in the simple 
nature of which one may at the same time perceive the 
impetus of a boiling passion. 

But before this, a deep, significant, impulsive world had 
already interested me. Through my adventure with Gretchen 
and its consequences, I had early looked into the strange 
labyrinths by which civil society is undermined. Keli- 
gion, morals, law, rank, connexions, custom, all rule only 
the surface of city existence. The streets, bordered by 
splendid houses, are kept neat, and every one behaves him- 



242 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIEE. 

self there properly enough; but indoors, it often seems 
only so much the more disordered; and a smooth exterior, 
like a thin coat of mortar, plasters over many a rotten wall 
that tumbles together overnight, and produces an effect the 
more frightful, as it comes into the midst of a condition of 
repose. How many families, far and near, had I not already 
seen, either overwhelmed in ruin or kept miserably hanging 
on the brink of it, by means of bankruptcies, divorces, 
seduced daughters, murders, house-robberies, poisonings ; and 
young as I was, I had often, in such cases, lent a hand for 
help and preservation. For as my frankness awakened con 
fidence, as my secresy was proved, as my activity feared no 
sacrifice, and loved best to exert itself in the most dangerous 
affairs, I had often enough found opportunity to mediate, to hush 
up, to divert the lightning-flash, with every other assistance of 
the kind ; in the course of which, as well in my own person 
as through others, I could not fail to come to the knowledge 
of many afflicting and humiliating facts. To relieve myself 
I designed several plays, and wrote the arguments * of most of 
them. But since the intrigues were always obliged to be 
painful, and almost all these pieces threatened a tragical con 
clusion, I let them drop one after another. Die Mitschuldigen 
(The Accomplices} is the only one that was finished, the 
cheerful and burlesque tone of which upon the gloomy family- 
ground appears as if accompanied by somewhat of apprehen 
sion, so that on the whole it is painful in representation, 
although it pleases in detached passages. The illegal deeds, 
harshly expressed, wound the aesthetic and moral feeling, and 
the piece could therefore find no favour on the German stage, 
although the imitations of it, which steered clear of those 
rocks, were received with applause. 

Both the above-mentioned pieces were however written from 
a more elevated point of view, without my having been aware 
of it. They direct us to a considerate forbearance in casting 
moral imputations, and in somewhat harsh and coarse touches 
sportively express that most Christian maxim : Let him who 
is without sin among you, cast the first stone. 

Through this earnestness, which cast a gloom over my first 

* " Exposition" in a dramatic sense, properly means a statement of 
the events which take place before the action of the play commences. 
Trans. 



YOUTHFUL PBASTKS. 243 

pieces, I committed the fault of neglecting very favourable 
materials which lay quite decidedly in my natural disposition. 
In the midst of these serious, and for a young man, fearful 
experiences, was developed in me a reckless humour, which 
feels itself superior to the moment, and not only fears no 
danger, but rather wantonly courts it. The ground of this lay 
in the exuberance of spirits in which the vigorous time of 
life so much delights, and which, if it manifests itself in a 
frolicsome way, causes much pleasure, both at the moment and 
in remembrance. These things are so usual that in the 
vocabulary of our young university friends they are called 
Suites^ and on account of the close similarity of signification, 
to say "play suites" means just the same as to "play 
pranks. "# 

Such humorous acts of daring, brought on the theatre 
with wit and sense, are of the greatest effect. They are 
distinguished from intrigue, inasmuch as they are momentary, 
and that their aim, whenever they are to have one, must not 
be remote. Beaumarchais has seized their full value, and the 
effects of his Figaro spring pre-eminently from this. If now 
such good-humoured roguish and half-knavish pranks are 
practised with personal risk for noble ends, the situations 
which arise from them are aesthetically and morally con 
sidered of the greatest value for the theatre ; as for instance 
. the opera of the Water- Carrier treats perhaps the happiest 
subject which we have ever yet seen upon the stage. 

To enliven the endless tedium of daily life, I played off 1 
numberless tricks of the sort, partly without any aim at all, 
partly in the service of my friends whom I liked to please. 
For myself, I could not say that I had once acted in this 
designedly, nor did I ever happen to consider a feat of the 
kind as a subject for art. Had I, however, seized upon and 
elaborated such materials, which were so close at hand, my 
earliest labours would have been more cheerful and available. 
Some incidents of this kind occur indeed later, but isolated 
and without design. For since the heart always lies nearer 
to us than the head, and gives us trouble when the latter 
knows well how to help itself, so the affairs of the heart had 

The real meaning of the passage is that the idiom " Possen reissen," 
is used also with the university word " Suite," so that one can say " Suiten 
reissen." Trans. 



244 TittiTH AND POETKY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

always appeared to me as the most important. I was never 
weary of reflecting upon the transient nature of attachments,, 
the mutability of human character, moral sensuality, and all 
the heights and depths, the combination of which in our 
nature may be considered as the riddle of human life. 
Here, too, I sought to get rid of that which troubled me, in 
a song, an epigram, in some kind of rhyme, which, since they 
referred to the most private feelings and the most peculiar 
circumstances, could scarcely interest any one but myself. 

In the meanwhile, my external position had very much 
changed after the lapse of a short time. Madame Bohme, 
after a long and melancholy illness, had at last died ; she had 
latterly ceased to admit me to her presence. Her husband 
could not be particularly satisfied with me ; I seemed to him 
not sufficiently industrious, and too frivolous. He especially 
took it very ill of me, when it was told him that, at the 
lectures on German Public Law, instead of taking proper 
notes, I had been drawing on the margin of my note-book 
the personages presented to our notice in them, such as the/ 
President of the Chamber, the Moderators and Assessors, in 
strange wigs ; and. by this drollery had disturbed my atten 
tive neighbours and set them laughing. After the loss of his 
wife he lived still more retired than before, and at last I 
shunned him in order to avoid his reproaches. But it was 
peculiarly unfortunate that Gellert would not use the power 
which he might have exercised over us. Indeed he had not 
time to play the father- confessor, and to inquire after the cha 
racter and faults of everybody ; he therefore took the matter 
very much in the lump, and thought to curb us by means of 
the church forms. For this reason, commonly, when he once 
admitted us to his presence, he used to lower his little head, 
and, in his weeping, winning voice, to ask us whether we 
went regularly to church, who was our confessor, and whether 
we took the holy communion? If now we came off badly 
at this examination we were dismissed with lamentations ; 
we were more vexed than edified, yet could not help loving- 
the man heartily. 

On this occasion, I cannot forbear recalling somewhat of 
my earlier youth, in order to make it obvious that the great 
affairs of the ecclesiastical religion must be carried on with, 
order and coherence, if they are to prove as fruitful as is- 



SACRAMENTS OF THE CHtTRCH. 245 

expected. The Protestant service has too little fulness and 
consistency to be able to hold the congregation together; 
hence, it easily happens that members secede from it, and 
either form little congregations of their own, or, without- 
ecclesiastical connexion, quietly carry on their citizen-life side 
by side. Thus for a considerable time complaints were made 
that the church-goers were diminishing from year to year, 
and, just in the same ratio, the persons who partook of the 
Lord s Supper. With respect to both, but especially the 
latter, the cause lies close at hand ; but who dares to speak 
it out ? We will make the attempt. 

In moral and religious, as well as in physical and civil 
matters, man does not like to do anything on the spur of the 
moment; he needs a sequence from which results habit; 
what he is to love and to perform, he cannot represent to 
himself as single or isolated, and if he is to repeat anything 
willingly, it must not have become strange to him. If the 
Protestant worship lacks fulness in general, so let it be in 
vestigated in detail, and it will be found that the Protestant 
has too few sacraments, nay, indeed he has only one in which 
he is himself an actor, the Lord s Supper : for baptism he 
sees only when it is performed on others, and is not greatly 
edified by it. The sacraments are the highest part of religion, 
the symbols to our senses of an extraordinary divine favour 
and grace. In the Lord s Supper earthly lips are to receive 
a divine Being embodied, and partake of an heavenly under 
the form of an earthly nourishment. This sense is just the 
same in all Christian churches; whether the Sacrament is 
taken with more or less submission to the mystery, with more 
or less accommodation as to that which is intelligible; it 
always remains a great holy thing, which in reality takes the 
place of the possible or the impossible, the place of that which 
man can neither attain nor do without. But such a sacrament 
should not stand alone ; no Christian can partake of it with 
the true joy for which it is given, if the symbolical or sacra 
mental sense is not fostered within him. He must be accus 
tomed to regard the inner religion of the heart and that of the 
external church as perfectly one, as the great universal sacra 
ment, which again divides itself into so many others, and 
communicates to these parts its holiness, indestructibleness, 
and eternity. 



J246 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

Here a youthful pair give their hands to one another, not 
for a passing salutation or for the dance; the priest pro 
nounces his blessing upon them, and the bond is indissoluble. 
It is not long before this wedded pair bring a likeness to the 
threshold of the altar; it is purified with holy water, and so 
incorporated into the church, that it cannot forfeit this benefit 
but through the most monstrous apostacy. The child in the 
course of life practises himself in earthly things of his own 
accord, in heavenly things he must be instructed. Does it 
prove on examination that this has been fully done, he is now 
received into the bosom of the church as an actual citizen, as 
a true and voluntary professor, not without outward tokens 
of the weightiness of this act. Now is he first decidedly a 
Christian, now for the first time he knows his advantages, and 
also his duties. But, in the meanwhile, much that is strange 
has happened to him as a man; through instruction and 
affliction he has come to know how critical appears the state 
of his inner self, and there will constantly be a question of 
doctrines and of transgressions ; but punishment shall no 
longer take place. For here, in the infinite confusion in 
which he must entangle himself, amid the conflict of natural 
and religious claims, an admirable expedient is given him, in 
confiding his deeds and misdeeds, his infirmities and doubts, 
to a worthy man, appointed expressly for that purpose, who 
knows how to calm, to warn, to strengthen him, to chasten 
him likewise by symbolical punishments, and at last by a com 
plete washing away of his guilt, to render him happy and to 
give him back, pure and cleansed, the tablet of his manhood. 
Thus prepared, and purely calmed to rest by several sacra 
mental acts, which, on closer examination, branch forth again 
into minuter sacramental traits, he kneels down to receive the 
host; and that the mystery of this high act may be still 
enhanced, he sees the chalice only in the distance ; it is no 
common eating and drinking that satisfies, it is a heavenly 
least, which makes him thirst after heavenly drink. 

Yet let not the youth believe that this is all he has to do ; 
let not even the man believe it. In earthly relations we are 
at last accustomed to depend on ourselves, and, even there, 
knowledge, understanding, and character, will not always 
suffice ; in heavenly things, on the contrary, we have never 
finished learning. The higher feeling within, us. which often 



CATHOLIC SACKAMENTS. 247 

finds itself not even truly at home, is, besides, oppressed by 
so much from without, that our own power hardly administers 
all that is necessary for counsel, consolation, and help. But, 
to this end, that remedy is instituted for our whole life, and 
an intelligent, pious man is continually waiting to show the 
right way to the wanderers, and to relieve the distressed. 

And what has been so well tried through the whole life, 
is now to show forth all its healing power with tenfold 
activity at the gate of Death. According to a trustful cus 
tom, inculcated from youth upwards, the dying man receives 
with fervour those symbolical, significant assurances, and 
there, where every earthly warranty fails, he is assured, by 
a heavenly one, of a blessed existence for all eternity. He 
feels himself perfectly convinced that neither a hostile element 
nor a malignant spirit can hinder him from clothing himself 
with a glorified body, so that, in immediate relation with the 
Godhead, he may partake of the boundless happiness which 
flows forth from Him. 

Then in conclusion, that the whole may be made holy, the 
feet also are anointed and blessed. They are to feel, even in 
the event of possible recovery, a repugnance to touching this 
earthly, hard, impenetrable soil. A wonderful nimbleness is 
to be imparted to them, by which they spurn from under them 
the clod of earth which hitherto attracted them. And so, 
through a brilliant circle of equally holy acts, the beauty of 
which we have only briefly hinted at, the cradle and the 
grave, however far asunder they may chance to be, are bound 
in one continuous circle. 

But all these spiritual wonders spring not, like other fruits, 
from the natural soil, where they can neither be sown, nor 
planted, nor cherished. We must supplicate for them from 
another region, a thing which cannot be done by all persons, 
nor at all times. Here we meet the highest of these symbols, 
derived from pious tradition. We are told that one man can 
be more favoured, blessed, and sanctified from above than 
another. But that this may not appear as a natural gift, this 
great boon, bound up with a heavy duty, must be communi 
cated to others by one authorized person to another ; and the 
greatest good that a man can attain, without his having to 
obtain it by his own wrestling or grasping, must be preserved 
and perpetuated on earth by spiritual heirship. In the very 



248 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

ordination of the priest, is comprehended all that is necessary 
for the effectual solemnizing of those holy acts, by which the 
multitude receive grace, without any other activity being 
needful on their part, than that of faith and implicit con 
fidence. And thus the priest steps forth in the line of his 
predecessors and successors, in the circle of those anointed 
with him, representing the highest source of blessings, so 
much the more gloriously, as it is not he, the priest, whom 
we reverence, but his office ; it is not his nod to which we 
bow the knee, but the blessing which he imparts, and which 
seems the more holy, and to come the more immediately from 
heaven, because the earthly instrument cannot at all weaken, 
or invalidate it by its own sinful, nay, wicked nature. 

How is this truly spiritual connexion shattered to pieces in 
Protestantism, by part of the above-mentioned symbols being 
declared apocryphal, and only a few canonical ; and how, 
by their indifference to one of these, will they prepare us for 
the high dignity of the others ? 

In my time I had been confided to the religious instruction 
of a good old infirm clergyman, who had been confessor of 
the family for many years. The Catechism, a Paraphrase of 
it, and the Scheme of Salvation, I had at my fingers ends, I 
lacked not one of the strongly proving biblical texts, but from 
all this I reaped no fruit ; for as they assured me that the 
honest old man arranged his chief examination according to 
an old set form, I lost all pleasure and inclination for the 
business, spent the last week in all sorts of diversions, laid in 
mv hat the loose leaves borrowed from an older friend, who 

w 

had gotten them from the clergyman, and unfeelingly and 
senselessly read aloud all that I should have known how to 
utter with feeling and conviction. 

But I found my good- will and my aspirations in this im 
portant matter still more paralyzed by a dry, spiritless routine, 
when I was now to approach the confessional. I was indeed 
conscious to myself of many failings, but of no great faults ; 
and that very consciousness diminished them, since it directed 
me to the moral strength which lay within me, and which, 
with resolution and perseverance, was at last to become 
master over the old Adam. We were taught that we were 
much better than the catholics for this very reason : that we 
were not obliged to acknowledge anything in particular in the 



IlELIGIOTJS APPREHENSIONS. 249 

confessional, nay, that this would not be at all proper, even if 
we wished to do it. This last did not seem right to me ; for 
I had the strangest religious doubts, which I would readily 
have had cleared up on such an occasion. Now as this was 
not to be done, I composed a confession for myself, which, 
while it well expressed my state of mind, was to confess to 
an intelligent man, in general terms, that which I was for 
bidden to tell him in detail. But when I entered the old choir 
of the Barefoot Friars, when I approached the strange latticed 
closets in which the reverend gentlemen used to be found for 
that purpose, when the sexton opened the door for me, when 
I now saw myself shut up in the narrow place face to face 
with my spiritual grandsire, and he bade me welcome with 
his weak nasal voice, all the light of my mind and heart was 
extinguished at once, the well- conned confession-speech would 
not cross my lips ; I opened, in my embarrassment, the book 
which I had in hand, and read from it the first short form I 
saw, which was so general, that anybody might have spoken 
it with quite a safe conscience. I received absolution, and 
withdrew neither warm nor cold ; went the next day with 
my parents to the Table of the Lord, and, for a few days, 
behaved myself as was becoming after so holy an act. 

In the sequel, however, there came over me that evil, which 
from the fact of our religion being complicated by various 
dogmas, and founded on texts of scripture which admit of 
several interpretations, attacks scrupulous men in such a man 
ner, that it brings on a hypochondriacal condition, and raises 
this to its highest point, to fixed ideas. I have known several 
men who, though their manner of thinking and living was 
perfectly rational, could not free themselves from thinking 
about the sin against the Holy Ghost, and from the fear that 
they had committed it. A similar trouble threatened me on the 
subject of the communion, for the text that one who unworthily 
partakes of the Sacrament eateth and drinketh damnation to 
himself, had, very early, already made a monstrous impression 
upon me. Every fearful thing that I had read in the histories 
of the middle ages, of the judgments of God, of those most 
strange ordeals, by red-hot iron, flaming fire, swelling water, 
and even what the Bible tells us of the draught which agrees 
well with the innocent, but puffs up and bursts the guilty, 
ail this pictured itself to my imagination ; and formed itself 



250 TKUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

into the most frightful combinations, since false vows, hy 
pocrisy, perjury, blasphemy, all seemed to weigh down the 
unworthy person at this most holy act, which was so much 
the more horrible, as no one could dare to pronounce himself 
worthy, and the forgiveness of sins, by which everything was 
to be at last done away, was found limited by so many con 
ditions, that one could not with certainty dare appropriate it 
to oneself. 

This gloomy scruple troubled me to such a degree, and the 
expedient which they would represent to me as sufficient, 
seemed so bald and feeble, that it gave the bugbear only a 
more fearful aspect, and, as soon as I had reached Leipzig, I 
tried to free myself altogether from my connexion with the 
church. How oppressive then must have been to me the ex 
hortations of Gellert, whom, considering the generally laconic 
style with which he was obliged to repel our obtrusiveness, I 
was unwilling to trouble with such singular questions, and the 
less so as in my more cheerful hours I was myself ashamed of 
them; and at last left completely behind me this strange 
anguish of conscience, together with church and altar. 

Gellert, in accordance with his pious feelings, had composed 
for himself a course of ethics, which from time to time he 
publicly read, and thus in an honourable manner acquitted 
himself of his duty to the public. Gellert s writings had 
already, for a long time, been the foundation of German 
moral culture, and every one anxiously wished to see that 
work printed ; but as this was not to be done till after the 
good man s death, people thought themselves very fortunate 
to hear him deliver it himself in his lifetime. The philosophi 
cal auditorium* was at such times crowded, and the beautiful 
soul, the pure will, and the interest of the noble man in. our 
welfare, his exhortations, warnings, and entreaties, uttered in 
a somewhat hollow and sorrowful tone, made indeed an im 
pression for the moment, but this did not last long, the less 
so, as there were many scoffers, who contrived to make us 
suspicious of this tender, and, as they thought, enervating 
manner. I remember a Frenchman travelling through the 
town, who inquired after the maxims and opinions of the 
man who attracted such an immense concourse. When we 

* The lecture-room. The word is also used in university language to 
denote a professor s audience. 



DECLINE OF GELLERT S AUTHORITY. 251 

had given him the necessary information, he shook his head 
and said, smiling, Laissez lefaire, il nous forme des dupes. 

And thus also did good society, which cannot easily endure 
anything estimable in its neighbourhood, know how to spoil 
on occasion the moral influence which Gellert might have had 
upon us. Now it was taken ill of him that he instructed the 
Danes of distinction and wealth, who were particularly recom 
mended to him, better than the other students, and had a 
marked solicitude for them ; now he was charged with selfish 
ness and nepotism for causing a table d hote to be established 
for these young men at his brother s house. This brother, a 
tall, good-looking, blunt, unceremonious and somewhat rude 
man, had, it was said, been a fencing-master, and notwith 
standing the too great lenity of his brother, the noble boarders 
were often treated harshly and roughly; hence the people 
thought they must again take the part of these young folks, 
and pulled about the good reputation of the excellent Gellert to 
such a degree, that, in order not to be mistaken about him, we 
became indifferent towards him, and visited him no more ; 
yet we always saluted him in our best manner when he came 
riding along on his tame grey horse. This horse the Elector 
had sent him, to oblige him to take an exercise so necessary 

for his health : a distinction which was not easily forgiven 
, . * 

him. 

And thus, by degrees, the epoch approached when all 
authority was to vanish from before me, and I was to become 
suspicious, nay, to despair, even of the greatest and best indi 
viduals whom I had known or imagined. 

Frederick the Second still stood at the head of all the 
distinguished men of the century, in my thoughts, and it 
must therefore have appeared very surprising to me, that I 
could praise him as little before the inhabitants of Leipzig 
as formerly in my grandfather s house. They had felt the 
hand of war heavily, it is true, and therefore they were not 
to blame for not thinking the best of him who had begun and 
continued it. They therefore were willing to let him pass 
as a distinguished, but by no means as a great man. " There 
was no art," they said, "in performing something with great 
means; and if one spares neither lands, nor money, nor 
blood, one may well accomplish one s purpose at last. Frede 
rick had shown himself great in none of his plans, and in 



TRUTH AND .POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

nothing that he had, properly speaking, undertaken. So long 
as it depended on himself, he had only gone on making blunders, 
and what was extraordinary in him, had only come to light 
when he was compelled to make these blunders good again. It 
was purely from this that he had obtained his great reputation, 
since every man wishes for himself that same talent of making 
good, in a clever way, the blunders which he frequently com 
mits. If one goes through the Seven Years War, step by step, 
it will be found that the king quite uselessly sacrificed his 
fine army, and that it was his own fault that this ruinous feud 
Jiad been protracted to so great a length. A truly great man 
.and general would have got the better of his enemies much 
sooner." In support of these opinions they could cite infinite 
details, which I did not know how to deny ; and I felt the 
unbounded reverence which I had devoted to this remarkable 
prince, from my youth upwards, gradually cooling away. 

As the inhabitants of Leipzig had now destroyed for me the 
pleasant feeling of revering a great man, so did a new friend 
whom I gained at the time very much diminish the respect 
which I entertained for my present fellow-citizens. This 
friend was one of the strangest fellows in the world. He was 
named Behrisch, and was tutor to the young Count Lindenau. 
Even his exterior was singular enough. Lean and well-built, 
far advanced in the thirties, a very large nose, and altogether 
marked features ; he wore from morning till night a scratch 
which might well have been called a peruke, but dressed him 
self very neatly, and never went out but with his sword by 
his side, and his hat under his arm. He was one of those 
men who have quite a peculiar gift of killing time, or rather, 
who know how to make something out of nothing, in order to 
pass time away. Everything that he did must be done with 
slowness, and a certain deportment which might have been 
called affected, if Behrisch had not even by nature had some 
thing affected in his manner. He resembled an old French 
man, and also spoke and wrote French very well and easily. 
His greatest delight was to busy himself seriously about drol 
leries, and to follow up without end any silly notion. Thus he 
was constantly dressed in grey, and as the different parts of his 
.attire were of different stuffs, and also of different shades, he 
could reflect for whole days as to how he should procure one 
grey more for his body, and was happy when he had succeeded 



BEHKISCH. 253 

in this, and could put to shame us who had doubted it, or 
had pronounced it impossible. He then gave us long severe 
lectures, about our lack of inventive power, and our want of 
faith in his talents. 

For the rest, he had studied well, was particularly versed in 
the modern languages and their literature, and wrote an 
excellent hand. He was very well disposed to me, and I, 
having been always accustomed and inclined to the society of 
older persons, soon attached myself to him. My intercourse, 
too, served him for a special amusement, since he took plea 
sure in taming my restlessness and impatience, with which, 
on the other hand, I gave him enough to do. In the art of 
poetry he had what is called taste, a certain general opinion 
about the good and bad, the mediocre and tolerable ; but his 
judgment was rather censorious, and he destroyed even the 
little faith in contemporary writers which I cherished within 
me, by unfeeling remarks, which he knew how to advance 
with wit and humour, about the writings and poems of this 
man and that. He received my own affairs with indulgence, 
and let me have my way, but only on the condition that I 
should have nothing printed. He promised me, on the other 
hand, that he himself would copy those pieces which he 
thought good, and would present me with them in a hand 
some volume. This undertaking now afforded an opportunity 
for the greatest possible waste of time. For before he could 
find the right paper, before he could make up his mind as to 
the size, before he had settled the breadth of the margin, and 
the form of handwriting, before the crow- quills were pro 
vided and cut into pens, and Indian ink was rubbed, whole 
weeks passed, without the least bit having been done. With 
just as much ado he always set about his writing, and really, 
by degrees, put together a most charming manuscript. The 
title of the poems was in German text, the verses themselves 
in a perpendicular Saxon hand, and at the end of every poem 
was an analogous vignette, which he had either selected some 
where or other, or had invented himself, and in which he 
contrived to imitate very neatly the hatching of the wood-cuts 
and tail-pieces which are used for such purposes. To show 
me these things as he went on, to celebrate beforehand in a 
comico-pathetical manner my good fortune in seeing myself 
immortalized in such exquisite handwriting, and that in a 



254 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

style which no printing-press could attain, gave another 
occasion for passing the most agreeable hours. In the mean 
time, his intercourse was always secretly instructive, by reason 
of his liberal acquirements, and, as he knew how to subdue 
my restless impetuous disposition, was also quite wholesome 
for me in a moral sense. He had, too, quite a peculiar 
abhorrence of roughness, and his jests were always quaint, 
without ever falling into the coarse or the trivial. He in 
dulged himself in a distorted aversion from his countrymen, 
and described with ludicrous touches even what they were 
able to undertake. He was particularly inexhaustible in a 
comical representation of individual persons, as he found some 
thing to find fault with in the exterior of every one. Thus, 
when we lay together at the window, he could occupy him 
self for hours criticising the passers-by, and when he had 
censured them long enough, in showing exactly and circum 
stantially how they ought to have dressed themselves, ought to 
have walked, and ought to have behaved to look like orderly 
people. Such attempts, for the most part, ended in something 
improper and absurd, so that we did not so much laugh at how 
the man looked, but at how, perchance, he might have looked, 
had he been mad enough to caricature himself. In all such 
matters, Behrisch went quite unmercifully to work, without 
being in the slightest degree malicious. On the other hand, 
we knew bow to teaze him, on our side, by assuring him that, 
to judge from his exterior, he must be taken, if not for a 
French dancing-master, at least for the academical teacher of 
the language. This reproval was usually the signal for dis 
sertations an hour long, in which he used to set forth the 
difference, wide as the heavens, which there was between him 
and an old Frenchman. At the same time he commonly 
imputed to us all sorts of awkward attempts, that we might 
possibly have made for the alteration and modification of his 
wardrobe. 

The direction of my poetizing, which I only carried on the 
more zealously as the transcript went on becoming more beau 
tiful and more careful, now inclined altogether to the natural 
and the true ; and if the subjects could not always be impor 
tant, I nevertheless always endeavoured to express them clearly 
and pointedly, the more so as my friend often gave me to un 
derstand, what a great thing it was to write down a verse on 



PROFESSOR CLODIUS. 255 

Dutch paper, with the crow-quill and Indian ink ; what time, 
talent, and exertion it required, which ought not to be squan 
dered on anything empty and superfluous. At the same time, 
he commonly used to open a finished parcel and circum 
stantially to explain what ought not to stand in this or that 
place, or congratulate us that it actually did not stand there. 
He then spoke, with great contempt, of the art of printing, 
mimicked the compositor, ridiculed his gestures and his hur 
ried picking out of letters here and there, and derived from 
this manoeuvre all the calamities of literature. On the other 
hand, he extolled the grace and the noble posture of a writer, 
and immediately sat down himself to exhibit it to us, while 
he rated us at the same time for not demeaning ourselves at 
the writing-table precisely after his example and model. He 
now returned to the contrast with the compositor, turned a 
begun letter upside down, and showed how unseemly it would 
be to write anything from the bottom to the top, or from the 
right to the left, with other things of like kind with which 
whole volumes might have been filled. 

With such harmless fooleries we lavished away our precious 
time, while it could have occurred to none of us, that anything 
would chance to proceed out of our circle, which would 
awaken a general sensation and bring us into not the best 
repute. 

Gellert may have taken little pleasure in his Practicum, 
and if, perhaps, he took pleasure in giving some direc 
tions as to prose and poetical style, he did it most privately 
only to a few, among whom we could not number ourselves. 
Professor Clodius thought to fill the gap which thus arose in 
the public instruction. He had gained some renown in litera 
ture, criticism, and poetry, and as a young, lively, obliging 
man, found many friends both in the university and in the 
city. Gellert himself referred us to the lectures now com 
menced by him, and, as far as the principal matter was con 
cerned, we remarked little difference. He, too, only criticised 
details, corrected likewise with red ink, and one found oneself 
in company with mere blunders, without a prospect as to where 
the right was to be sought. I had brought to him some of 
my little labours, which he did not treat harshly. But just 
at this time they wrote to me from home, that I must without 
fail furnish a poem for my uncle s wedding. I felt myself far 



256 TUTTTH AND POETKY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

from that light and frivolous period in which a similar thing 
would have given me pleasure, and since I could get nothing 
out of the actual circumstance itself, I determined to trick out 
my work in the best manner, with extraneous ornament. I 
therefore convened all Olympus to consult about the marriage 
of a Frankfort lawyer ; and seriously enough, to be sure, as 
well became the festival of such an honourable man. Venus 
and Themis had quarrelled for his sake ; but a roguish prank 
which Amor played the latter, gained the suit for the former, 
and the gods decided in favour of the marriage. 

My work by no means displeased me. I received from 
home a handsome letter in its praise, took the trouble to have 
another fair copy, and hoped to extort some applause from my 
professor also. But here I had missed my aim. He took 
the matter severely, and as he did not notice the tone of 
parody, which nevertheless lay in the notion, he declared the 
great expenditure of divine means for such an insignificant 
human end, in the highest degree reprehensible; inveighed 
against the use and abuse of such mythological figures, as a 
false habit originating in pedantic times ; found the expression 
now too high, now too low, and in divers particulars had 
indeed not spared the red ink, though he asserted that he had 
yet done too little. 

Such pieces were read out and criticised anonymously, it 
is true ; but we used to watch each other, and it remained 
no secret that this unfortunate assembly of the gods was my 
work. Yet since his critique, when I took his point of view, 
seemed to be perfectly just, and those divinities more nearly 
inspected were in fact only hollow shadow-forms ; I cursed 
all Olympus, flung the whole mythic Pantheon away, and from 
that time Amor and Luna have been the only divinities which 
at all appear in my little poems. 

Among the persons whom Behrisch had chosen as the butts 
of his wit, Clodius stood just at the head ; nor was it hard to 
find a comical side in him. As a little, rather stout, thick-set 
figure, he was violent in his motions, somewhat impetuous in 
his utterances, and restless in his demeanour. In all this he 
differed from his fellow-citizens, who, nevertheless, willingly 
put up with him on account of his good qualities and the fine 
promise which he gave. 

He was usually commissioned with the poems which had 



[RIDICULE OF CLODITJS. 257 

become necessary on festal occasions. In the so-called Ode, 
he followed the manner used by Ramler, whom, however, it 
alone suited. But Clodius, as an imitator, had especially 
marked the foreign words by means of which the poems of Ram- 
ler come forth with a majestic pomp, which, because it is con 
formable to the greatness of his subject and the rest of his 
poetic treatment, produces a very good effect on the ear, 
feelings, and imagination. In Clodius, on the contrary, 
these expressions had a heterogeneous air, since his poetry 
was in other respects not calculated to elevate the mind in 
any manner. 

Now we had often been obliged to see such poems printed 
and highly lauded in our presence, and we found it highly 
offensive, that he who had sequestered the heathen gods 
from us, now wished to hammer together another ladder to 
Parnassus out of Greek and Roman word-rungs. These 
oft-recurring expressions stamped themselves firmly on our 
memory, and in a merry hour, when we were eating some 
most excellent cakes in the Kitchen-gardens (Kohlparten), 
it all at once struck me to put together these words of might 
and power, in a poem on the cake-baker Hendel. No sooner 
thought than done ! And let it stand here, too, as it was 
written on the wall of the house with a lead-pencil. 

" O Hendel, dessen Ruhm vom Sud zum Norden reicht, 
Vernimm den P dan der zu deinen Ohren steigt 
Du backst was Gallien und Britten emsig suchen, 
Mit schopfrischen Genie, originelle Kuchen. 
Des Kaffee s Ocean, der sich vor dir ergiesst, 
1st siisser als der Saft der vom Hymettus fliesst. 
Dein Haus ein Monument, wie wir den Kunsten lohnen 
Umhangen mit Troph dn, erzahlt den Nationen : 
Auch ohne Diadem fand Hendel hier sein Gliick 
Und raubte dem Cothurn gur manch Achtgroschenstiick. 
Glanzt deine Urn dereinst in majestats chen Pompe, 
Dann weint der Patriot un deinem Katacombe. 
Doch leb ! dein Torus sey von edler Brut ein Nest, 
Steh hoch wie der Olymp, wie der Parnassus fest ! 
Kein Phalanx Griechenland mit Romischen Ballisten 
Vermog Germanien und Hendel zu verwusten. 
Dein Wohl is unser Stolz, dein Leiden unser Schmerz 
Und HendeFs Tempel ist der Musensohne Herz.*" 

* The humour of the above consists, not in the thoughts, but in the 
particular words employed. These have no remarkable effect in English, 

& 



258 TEUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

*> 

This poem stood a long time among many others which 
disfigured the walls of that room, without being noticed, and 
we, who had sufficiently amused ourselves with it, forgot it 
altogether amongst other things. A long time afterwards, 
Clodius came out with his Medon, whose wisdom, magnani 
mity and virtue we found infinitely ridiculous, much as the 
first representation of the piece was applauded. That evening, 
when we met together in the wine-house, I made a prologue in 
doggerel verse, in which Harlequin steps out with two great 
sacks, places them on each side of the proscenium, and after 
various preliminary jokes, tells the spectators in confidence, that 
in the two sacks moral aesthetic dust is to be found, which the 
actors will very frequently throw into their eyes. One, to 
wit, was filled with good deeds, that cost nothing, and the 
other with splendidly expressed opinions, that had no mean 
ing behind them. He reluctantly withdrew, and sometimes 
came back, earnestly exhorted the spectators to attend to 
his warning and shut their eyes, reminded them that he had 
always been their friend, and meant well with them, with 
many more things of the kind. This prologue was acted in the 
room, on the spot, by friend Horn, but the jest remained 
quite among ourselves, not even a copy had been taken, and 
the paper was soon lost. However, Horn, who had per- 

as to us the words of Latin origin are often as familiar as those which 
have Teutonic roots, and these form the chief peculiarity of the style. We 
have therefore given the poem in the original language, with the peculiar 
words (as indicated by Gothe) in italics, and subjoin a literal translation. 
It will be observed that we have said that the peculiarity consists chiefly, 
not solely, in the use of the foreign words, for there are two or three in 
stances of unquestionably German words, which are italicised on account 
of their high-sounding pomp. 

" Oh Hendel, whose fame extends from south to north, hear the Paean 
which ascends to thine ears. Thou bakest that which Gauls and Britons 
industriously seek, (thou bakest) with creative genius original cakes. The 
ocean of coffee which pours itself out before thee, is sweeter than the juice 
which flows from Hymettus. Thy house, a monument, how we reward 
the arts, hung round with trophies, tells the nations : Even without a 
diadem, Hendel formed his fortune here, and robbed the Cothurnus of many 
an eight-groschen-piece. When thine urn shines hereafter in majestic 
pomp, then will the patriot weep at thy catacomb. But live ! let thy bed 
(torus) be the nest of a noble brood, stand high as Olympus, and firm as 
Parnassus. May no phalanx of Greece with Roman ballistce be able to 
destroy Germania and Hendel. Thy weal is our pride, thy suffering our 
pain, and HendeFs temple is the heart of the sons of the Muses. 9 Trans* 



ECCENTRICITIES OF BEHEISCH. 259 

formed the Harlequin very prettily, took it into his head to 
enlarge my poem to Hendel by several verses, and then to 
make it refer to Medon. He read it aloud to us, and we 
could not take any pleasure in it, for we did not find the 
additions even ingenious, while the first poem, being written 
for quite a different purpose, seemed to us disfigured. Our 
friend, out of humour at our indifference, or rather cen 
sure, may have shown it to others, who found it new and 
amusing. Copies were now made of it, to which the reputa 
tion of Clodius s Medon gave at once a rapid publicity. Uni 
versal disapproval was the consequence, and the originators 
(it was soon found out that the poem had proceeded from our 
clique) were severely censured : for nothing of the sort had 
been seen since Cronegk s and Kost s attacks upon Gottsched. 
We had besides already secluded ourselves, and now found 
ourselves quite in the case of the owl with respect to the 
other birds. In Dresden, too, they did not like the affair, and 
it had for us serious, if not unpleasant consequences. For 
some time, already, Count Lindenau had not been quite 
satisfied with his son s tutor. For, although the young man 
was by no means neglected, and Behrisch kept himself either 
in the chamber of the young Count, or at least close to it, when 
the instructors gave their daily lessons, regularly frequented the 
lectures with him, never went out in the day-time without 
him, and accompanied him in all his walks ; yet the rest of 
us were always to be found in Apel s house, and joined them 
whenever they went on a pleasure ramble ; this already 
excited some attention. Behrisch, too, accustomed himself 
to our society, and at last, towards nine o clock in the even 
ings, generally transferred his pupil into the hands of the 
valet de chambre, and went in quest of us to the wine-house, 
whither, however, he never used to come but in shoes and 
stockings, with his sword by his side, and commonly his hat 
under his arm. The jokes and fooleries, which he generally 
started, went on ad itifinitum. Thus, for instance, one of our 
friends had a habit of going away precisely at ten, because he 
had a connexion with a pretty girl, with whom he could con 
verse only at that hour. We did not like to lose him ; and 
one evening, when we sat very happily together, Behrisch 
secretly determined that he would not let him off this time. 
At the stroke of ten, the other arose and took leave. Behrisch 

s 2 



260 TKTJTH AND POETBY ; PROM MY OWN LIFE. 

called after him and begged him. to wait a moment, as he 
was just going with him. He now began, in the most 
amusing manner, first to look after his sword, which stood 
just before his eyes, and in buckling it on behaved awk 
wardly, so that he could never accomplish it. He did this, 
too, so naturally, that no one took offence at it. But when, to 
vary the theme, he at last went further, so that the sword 
came now on the right side, now between his legs, an univer 
sal laughter arose, in which the man in a hurry, who was 
likewise a merry fellow, chimed in, and let Behrisch have his 
own way till the happy hour was past, when, for the first 
time, there followed general pleasure and agreeable conversa 
tion till deep into the night. 

Unfortunately Behrisch, and we through him, had a certain 
other propensity for some girls who were better than their 
reputation ; by which our own reputation could not be im 
proved. We had often been seen in their garden, and we 
directed our walks thither, even when the young Count was 
with us. All this may have been treasured up, and at last 
communicated to his father ; enough, he sought, in a gentle 
manly manner, to get rid of the tutor, to whom the event 
proved fortunate. His good exterior, his knowledge and 
talents, his integrity, which no one could call in question, had 
won him the affection and esteem of distinguished persons, on 
whose recommendation he was appointed tutor to the heredi 
tary prince of Dessau ; and at the court of a prince, excellent 
in every respect, found a solid happiness. 

The loss of a friend like Behrisch was of the greatest conse 
quence to me. He had spoiled, while he cultivated me, and 
his presence was necessary, if the pains he had thought good 
to spend upon me were in any degree to bring forth fruit for 
society. He knew how to engage me in all kinds of pretty and 
agreeable things, in whatever was just appropriate, and to 
bring out my social talents. But as I had gained no self- 
dependence in such things, so when I was alone again, I im 
mediately relapsed into my confused and crabbed disposition, 
which always increased, the more discontented I was with 
those about me, since I fancied that they were not contented 
with me. With the most arbitrary caprice, I took offence at 
what I might have reckoned as an advantage to me ; thus 
alienated many with whom I had hitherto stood on a tolerable 



WHAT IS EXPERIENCE? 261 

footing ; and, on account of the many disagreeable conse 
quences which I had drawn on myself and others, whether by 
doing or leaving undone, by doing too much or too little, 
was obliged to hear the remark from my well-wishers, that 
I lacked experience. The same thing was told me by every 
person of sound sense who saw my productions, especially 
when these referred to the external world. I observed this 
as well as I could, but found in it little that was edifying, 
and was still forced to add enough of my own to make it only 
tolerable. I had often pressed my friend Behrisch, too, that he 
would make plain to me what experience might be ? But, 
because he was full of nonsense, he put me off with fair 
words from one day to another, and at last, after great pre 
parations, disclosed to me, that true experience was properly 
when one experiences how an experienced man must expe 
rience in experiencing his experience. Now when we scolded 
him outrageously, and called him to account for this, he 
assured us that a great mystery lay hidden behind these 
words, which we could not comprehend until we had expe 
rienced . . . and so on without end ; for it cost him 
nothing to talk on in that way by the quarter of an hour ; 
since the experience would always become more experienced, 
and at last come to true experience. When, we were falling 
into despair at such fooleries, he protested that he had learned 
this way of making himself intelligible and impressive from 
the latest and greatest authors, who had made us observe 
how one can rest a restful rest, and how silence, in being 
silent, can constantly become more silent. 

By chance an officer, who came among us on furlough, was 
praised in good company as a remarkable sound-minded and 
experienced man, who had fought through the Seven Years 
War, and had gained universal confidence. It was not diffi 
cult for me to approach him, and we often went walking with 
each other. The idea of experience had almost become fixed 
in my brain, and the craving to make it clear to me pas 
sionate. Open-hearted as I was, I disclosed to him the 
uneasiness in which I found myself. He smiled, and was 
kind enough to tell me, as an answer to my question, some 
thing of his own life, and generally of the world immediately 
about us ; from, which, indeed, little better was to be gathered 
than that experience convinces us that our best thoughts, 



262 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

wishes and designs are unattainable, and that he who fosters 
such vagaries and advances them with eagerness, is especially 
held to be an inexperienced man. 

Yet, as he was a gallant, good fellow, he assured me that 
he had himself not quite given up these vagaries, and felt 
himself tolerably well off with the little faith, love, and hope 
which remained. He then felt obliged to tell me a great 
deal about war, about the sort of life in the field, about skir 
mishes and battles, especially so far as he had taken part in 
them ; when these vast events, by being considered in relation 
to a single individual, gained a very odd aspect. I then led 
him on to an open narration of the late situation of the court, 
which seemed to me quite like a tale. I heard of the 
bodily strength of Augustus the Second, of his many chil 
dren and his vast expenses, then of his successor s love of 
art and of making collections, of Count Bruhl and his bound 
less love of magnificence, which in detail appeared almost 
absurd, of his numerous banquets and gorgeous amusements, 
which were all cut off by Frederick s invasion of Saxony. 
The royal castles now lay in ruins, Bruhl s splendours were 
annihilated, and, of the whole, a glorious land, much injured, 
alone remained. 

When he saw me astonished at that mad enjoyment of 
fortune, and then grieved by the calamity that followed, and 
informed me that one expects from an experienced man 
exactly this, that he shall be astonished at neither the one 
nor the other, nor take too lively an interest in them, I felt 
a great desire still to remain awhile in the same inexperience 
as hitherto ; in which desire he strengthened me, and very 
urgently entreated me, for the present at least, always to 
cling to agreeable experiences, and to try to avoid those that 
wre disagreeable as much as possible, if they should intrude 
themselves upon me. But once, when the discussion was 
again about experience in general, and I related to him those 
ludicrous phrases of my friend Behrisch, he shook his head, 
smiling, and said, " There, one sees how it is with words 
which are only once uttered ! These sound so comical, nay, 
so silly, that it would seem almost impossible to put a rational 
meaning into them ; and yet, perhaps, the attempt might be 
made." 
And when I pressed him, he replied in his intelligent, 



WHAT IS EXPERIENCE? 263 

cheerful manner, " If you will allow me, while commenting 
on and completing your friend, to go on after his fashion, I 
think he meant to say, that experience is nothing else than 
that one experiences what one does not wish to experience ; 
which is what it amounts to for the most part, at least in this 
world." 



EIGHTH BOOK 



ANOTHER man, although infinitely different from Behrisch in 
every respect, might yet be compared with him in a certain 
sense ; I mean OESEH, who was also one of those men who 
dream away their lives in a comfortable state of being busy. 
His friends themselves secretly acknowledged that, with very 
fine natural powers, he had not spent his younger years in 
sufficient activity ; for which reason, he never went so far as 
to practise his art with perfect technicality. Yet a certain 
diligence appeared to be reserved for his old age, and, during 
the many years which I knew him, he never lacked invention 
or laboriousness. From the very first moment he had much 
attracted me ; even his residence, strange and portentous, was 
highly charming to me. In the old castle Pleissenburg, at 
the right-hand corner, one ascended a repaired, cheerful, wind 
ing staircase. The saloons of the Academy of Design, of which 
he was director, were found to the left, and were light and 
roomy ; but he himself could only be reached through a nar 
row, dark passage, at the end of which one first sought the 
entrance into his apartments, having just passed between the 
whole suite of them and an extensive granary. The first 
apartment was adorned with pictures from the later Italian 
school, by masters whose grace he used highly to commend. 
As I, with some noblemen, had taken private lessons of him, 
we were permitted to draw here, and we often penetrated into 
his adjoining private cabinet, which contained at the same 
time his few books, collections of art and natural curiosities, 
and whatever else might have most interested him. Every 
thing was arranged with taste, simply, and in such a manner 
that the little space held a great deal. The furniture, presses, 
and portfolios were elegant, without affectation or superfluity. 
Thus also the first thing which he recommended to us, and 
to which he always recurred, was simplicity in everything 
that art and manual labour united are called upon to pro 
duce. As a sworn foe of the scroll-and-shell style, and of 
the whole taste for quaintness, he showed us in copper- 



OESER. 265 

plates and drawings old patterns of the sort, contrasted 
with better decorations and simpler forms of furniture, as 
well as with other appurtenances of a room ; and, because 
everything about him corresponded with these maxims, his 
words and instructions made a good and lasting impression 
on us. Besides this, he had an opportunity to let us see his 
opinions in practice, since he stood in good consideration both 
with private and with official persons, and was asked for 
advice when there were new buildings and alterations. He 
seemed in general to be more fond of preparing anything on 
occasion, for a certain end and use, than of undertaking and 
completing things which exist for themselves and require a 
greater perfection ; he was therefore always ready and at hand 
when the publishers needed larger and smaller copper-plates 
for any work ; thus the vignettes to Winckelmann s first writ 
ings were etched by him. But he often made only very sketchy 
drawings, to which Geyser knew very well how to adapt him 
self. His figures had throughout something general, not to 
say ideal. His women were pleasing and agreeable, his chil 
dren naive enough ; only he could not succeed with the men, 
who, in his spirited but always cloudy and at the same time 
foreshortening manner, had for the most part the look of Laz- 
zaroni. Since he designed his composition less with regard 
to form than to light, shade, and masses, the general effect was 
good ; as indeed all that he did and produced was attended by 
a peculiar grace. As he at the same time neither could nor 
would control a deep-rooted propensity to the significant and 
the allegorical to that which excites a secondary thought, 
so his works always furnished something to reflect upon, and 
were complete through a conception, even where they could 
not be so from art and execution. This bias, which is always 
dangerous, frequently led him to the very bounds of good taste, 
if not beyond them. He often sought to attain his views by 
the oddest notions, and by whimsical jests ; nay, his best 
works always have a touch of humour. If the public were 
not always satisfied with such things, he revenged himself 
by a new and even stranger drollery. Thus he afterwards 
exhibited in the ante-room of the great concert-hall, an ideal 
female figure, in his own style, who was raising a pair of 
snuffers to a taper, and he was extraordinarily delighted when 
he was able to cause a dispute on the question : whether this 



266 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

singular muse meant to snuff the light or to extinguish it ? when 
he roguishly allowed all sorts of bantering by-thoughts to peep 
forth. 

But the building of the new theatre, in my time, made the 
greatest noise ; in which his curtain, when it was still quite 
new, had certainly an uncommonly charming effect. Oeser 
had taken the Muses out of the clouds, upon which they 
usually hover on such occasions, and set them upon the earth. 
The statues of Sophocles and Aristophanes, around whom 
all the modern dramatic writers were assembled, adorned a 
vestibule to the Temple of Fame. Here, too, the goddesses 
of the arts were likewise present, and all was dignified and 
beautiful. But now comes the oddity! Through the open 
centre was seen the portal of the distant temple, and a man 
in a light jerkin was passing between the two above-men 
tioned groups, and without troubling himself about them, 
directly up to the temple ; he was seen from behind, and was 
not particularly distinguished. Now this man was to repre 
sent Shakspeare, who, without predecessors or followers, with 
out concerning himself about models, went to meet immortality 
in his own way. This work was executed on the great floor 
over the new theatre. We often assembled round him there, 
and in that place I read aloud to him the proof-sheets of 
Musarion. 

As to myself, I by no means advanced in the practice of the 
art. His instructions worked upon our mind and our taste ; 
but his own drawing was too undefined to guide me, who had 
only glimmered along by the objects of art and of nature, to a 
severe and decided practice. Of the faces and bodies he gave 
us rather the aspect than the forms, rather the postures than 
the proportions. He gave us the conceptions of the figures, 
and desired that we should impress them vividly upon our 
minds. That might have been beautifully and properly done, if 
he had not had mere beginners before him. If, on this account, 
a pre-eminent talent for instruction may be well denied him, 
it must, on the other hand, be acknowledged that he was very 
discreet and politic, and that a happy adroitness of mind quali 
fied him very peculiarly for a teacher in a higher sense. The 
deficiencies under which each one laboured he clearly saw ; 
but he disdained to reprove them directly, and rather hinted 
his praise and censure indirectly and very laconically. One 



INFLUENCE OF OESER. 267 

was now compelled to think over the matter, and soon came 
to a far deeper insight. Thus, for instance, I had very care 
fully executed, after a pattern, a nosegay on blue paper, with 
white and black crayon, and partly with the stump, partly by 
hatching it up, had tried to give effect to the little picture. 
After I had been long labouring in this way, he once came 
behind me and said: " More paper! upon which he imme 
diately withdrew. My neighbour and I puzzled our heads as 
to what this could mean : for my bouquet, on a large half-sheet, 
had plenty of space around it. After we had reflected a long 
while, we thought, at last, that we had hit his meaning, when 
we remarked that, by working together the black and the 
white, I had quite covered up the blue ground, had destroyed 
the middle tint, and, in fact, with great industry, had pro 
duced a disagreeable drawing. As to the rest, he did not fail 
to instruct us in perspective, and in light and shade, sufficiently 
indeed, but always so that we had to exert and torment our 
selves to find the application of the principles communicated. 
Probably his view with regard to us who did not intend to 
become artists, was only to form the judgment and taste, and 
to make us acquainted with the requisites of a work of art, 
without precisely requiring that we should produce one. Since,, 
moreover, patient industry was not my talent, for nothing gave 
me pleasure except what came to me at once, so by degrees I 
became discouraged, if not lazy, and as knowledge is more 
comfortable than doing, I was quite content to follow wherever 
he chose, after his own fashion, to lead us. 

At this time the Lives of the Painters, by D Argenville, was 
translated into German ; I obtained it quite fresh, and studied 
it assiduously enough. This seemed to please Oeser, and he 
procured us an opportunity of seeing many a portfolio out of 
the great Leipzig collections, and thus introduced us to the 
history of the art. But even these exercises produced in me 
an effect different from that which he probably had in mind. 
The manifold subjects which I saw treated by artists awakened 
the poetic talent in me, and as one easily makes an en 
graving for a poem, so did I now make poems to the engrav 
ings and drawings, by contriving to present to myself the 
personages introduced in them, in their previous and subse 
quent condition, and sometimes to compose a little song which, 
might have suited them ; and thus accustomed myself to con- 



268 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

sider the arts in connexion with each other. Even the mistakes 
which I made, so that my poems were often descriptive, were 
useful to me in the sequel, when I came to more reflection, by 
making me attentive to the differences between the arts. Of 
such little things many were in the collection which Behrisch 
had arranged ; but there is nothing left of them now. 

The atmosphere of art and taste in wiiich Oeser lived, and 
into which one was drawn, provided one visited him fre 
quently, was the more and more worthy and delightful, because 
lie was fond of remembering departed or absent persons, with 
whom he had been, or still continued to be, on good terms ; 
for if he had once given any one his esteem, he remained un 
alterable in his conduct towards him, and always showed 
himself equally friendly. 

After we had heard CAYLTJS pre-eminently extolled among 
the French, he made us also acquainted with Germans of 
activity in this department. Thus we learned that Professor 
CHRIST, as an amateur, a collector, a connoisseur, a fellow- 
labourer, had done good service for art ; and had applied his 
learning to its true improvement. HEINECKE, on the con 
trary, could not be honourably mentioned, partly because he 
devoted himself too assiduously to the ever-childish beginnings 
of German art, which Oeser little valued, partly because he 
had once treated Winckelmann shabbily, which could never 
be forgiven him. Our attention, however, was strongly drawn 
to the labours of LIPPERT, since our instructor knew how to 
set forth his merits sufficiently. " For," he said, " although 
single statues and larger groups of sculpture remain the foun 
dation and the summit of all knowledge of art. yet either as 
originals or as casts they are seldom to be seen ; on the con 
trary, by Lippert, a little world of gems is made known, in 
which the more comprehensible merit of the ancients, their 
happy invention, judicious composition, tasteful treatment, are 
made more striking and intelligible, while, from the great 
number of them, comparison is much more possible." While 
now we were busying ourselves with these as much as was 
allowed, WINCKELMANN s lofty life of art in Italy was pointed 
out, and we took his first writings in hand with devotion: for 
Oeser had a passionate reverence for him, which he was able 
easily to instil into us. The problematical part of those little 
treatises, which are, besides, confused even from their irony, 



FEELING FOR ART IN LEIPZIG. 269 

and from their referring to opinions and events altogether 
peculiar, we were, indeed, unable to decipher ; but as Oeser 
had great influence over us, and incessantly gave them out to 
us as the gospel of the beautiful, and still more of the tasteful 
and the pleasing, we found out the general sense, and fancied 
that with such interpretations we should go on the more 
securely, as we regarded it no small happiness to draw from 
the same fountain from which Winckelmann had allayed his 
earliest thirst. 

No greater good fortune can befall a city, than when several 
educated men, like-minded in what is good and right, live 
together in it. Leipzig had this advantage, and enjoyed it the 
more peacefully, as so many differences of judgment had not 
yet manifested themselves. HTJBER, a print collector, and a 
well-experienced connoisseur, had furthermore the gratefully 
acknowledged merit of having determined to make the worth 
of German literature known to the French ; KRETJCHATJF, an 
amateur with a practised eye, who, as the friend of the whole 
society of art, might regard all collections as his own ; WINK- 
LEU, who much loved to share with others the intelligent de 
light which he cherished for his treasures ; many more who 
were added to the list, all lived and laboured with one feeling, 
and often as I was permitted to be present when they exa 
mined works of art, I do not remember that a dispute ever 
arose : the school from which the artist had proceeded, the 
time in which he lived, the peculiar talent which nature had 
bestowed on him, and the degree of excellence to which he had 
brought it in his performances, were always fairly considered. 
There was no prejudice for spiritual or terrestrial subjects, for 
landscape or for city views, for animate or inanimate ; the 
question was always about the accordance with art. 

Now although from their situation, mode of thought, abili 
ties, and opportunities, these amateurs and collectors inclined 
more to the Dutch school, yet, while the eye was practised on 
the endless merits of the north-western artist, a look of reve 
rential longing was always turned towards the south-east. 

And so the university, where I neglected the ends both of 
my family and myself, was to ground me in that in which I 
afterwards found the greatest satisfaction of my life ; the im 
pression of those localities, too, in which I received such 
important incitements, has always remained to me most dear 



270 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

and precious. The old Pleissenburg, the rooms of the Aca 
demy, but, above all, the abode of Oeser, and no less the col 
lections of Winkler and Richter, I have always vividly present 
before me. 

But a young man who, while older persons are conversing 
with each other on subjects already familiar to them, is in 
structed only incidentally, and for whom the most difficult part 
of the business, tl^it of rightly arranging all, yet remains, must 
find himself in a very painful situation. I therefore, as well 
as others, looked about with longing for some new light, 
which was indeed to come to us from a man to whom we owed 
so much already. 

The mind can be highly delighted in two ways, by percep 
tion and conception. But the former demands a worthy object, 
which is not always at hand, and a proportionate culture, 
which one does not immediately attain. Conception, on the 
other hand, requires only susceptibility ; it brings its subject- 
matter with it, and is itself the instrument of culture. Hence 
that beam of light was most welcome to us which that most 
excellent thinker brought down to us through dark clouds. 
One must be a young man to render present to oneself the 
effect which Lessing s Laocoon produced upon us, by trans 
porting us out of the region of scanty perceptions into the 
open fields of thought. The so long misunderstood ut pictura 
poesis was at once laid aside, the difference between plastic 
and speaking art* was made clear, the summits of the two now 
appeared sundered, however near their bases might border on 
each other. The plastic artist was to keep himself within the 
bounds of the beautiful, if the artist of language, who cannot 
dispense with the significant in any kind, is permitted to 
ramble abroad beyond them. The former labours for the outer 
sense, which is satisfied only by the beautiful ; the latter for 
the imagination, which may even reconcile itself to the ugly. 
All the consequences of this splendid thought were illumined 
to us as by a lightning flash ; all the criticism which had hitherto 
guided and judged was thrown away like a worn-out coat ; we 
considered ourselves freed from all evil, and fancied we might 
yenture to look down with some compassion upon the other- 

* " Bildende und Redende Kunst." The expression " speaking art " is 
used to produce a corresponding antithesis, though " belles lettres" would 
be the ordinary rendering. Tram. 



LESSING S IAOCOON. 271 

wise so splendid sixteenth century, when, in German sculptures 
and poems, they knew how to represent life only under the 
form of a fool hung with bells, death under the misformed 
shape of a rattling skeleton, and the necessary and accidental 
evils of the world under the image of the caricatured devil. 

We were the most enchanted with the beauty of that 
thought, that the ancients had recognised death as the brother 
of sleep, and had represented them similar even to confusion, 
as becomes Mena3chmi. Here we could first do high honour to 
the triumph of the beautiful, and banish the ugly of every kind 
into the low sphere of the ridiculous in the kingdom of art, 
since it could not be utterly driven out of the world. 

The splendour of such leading and fundamental concep 
tions appears only to the mind upon which they exercise their 
infinite activity appears only to the age in which, after 
being longed for, they come forth at the right moment. Then 
do those to whom such nourishment is offered, fondly occupy 
whole periods of their lives with it, and rejoice in an over 
abundant growth ; while men are not wanting, meanwhile, 
who resist such an effect on the spot, nor others who after 
wards haggle and cavil at its high meaning. 

But as conception and perception mutually require each 
other, I could not long work up these new thoughts, without 
an infinite desire arising within me to see important works of 
art, once and away, in great number. I therefore determined 
to visit Dresden without delay. I was not in want of the 
necessary cash ; but there were other difficulties to overcome, 
which I needlessly increased still further, through my wliim- 
sical disposition ; for I kept my purpose a secret from every 
one, because I wished to contemplate the treasures of art 
there quite after my own way, and, as I thought, to allow 110 
one to perplex me. Besides tins, so simple a matter became 
more complicated by still another eccentricity. 

We have weaknesses, both by birth and by education, and it 
may be questioned which of the two gives us the most trouble. 
Willingly as I made myself familiar with all sorts of condi 
tions, and many as had been my inducements to do so, an ex 
cessive aversion from all inns had nevertheless been instilled 
into me by my father. This feeling had rooted itself firmly 
in him on his travels through Italy, France, and Germany. 
Although he seldom spoke in images, and only called them to 



272 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

his aid when he was very cheerful, yet he used often to repeat 
that he always fancied he saw a great cobweb spun across the 
gate of an inn, so ingeniously that the insects could indeed fly 
in, but that even the privileged wasps could not fly out again 
unplucked. It seemed to him something horrible, that one 
should be obliged to pay immoderately for renouncing one s 
habits and all that was dear to one in life, and living after the 
manner of publicans and waiters. He praised the hospitality 
of the olden time, and reluctantly as he otherwise endured 
even anything unusual in the house, he yet practised hospitality, 
especially towards artists and virtuosi ; thus gossip Seekatz 
always had his quarters with us, and Abel, the last musician 
who handled the viol di gamba with success and applause, was 
well received and entertained. With such youthful impres 
sions, which nothing had as yet rubbed off, how could I have 
resolved to set foot in an inn in a strange city ? Nothing 
would have been easier than to find quarters with good 
friends. Hofrath Krebel, Assessor Hermann, and others had 
often spoken to me about it already ; but even to these my 
trip was to remain a secret, and I hit upon a most singular 
notion. My next-room neighbour, the industrious theologian, 
whose eyes unfortunately constantly grew weaker and weaker, 
had a relation in Dresden, a shoemaker, with whom from 
time to time he corresponded. For a long while already this 
man had been highly remarkable to me on account of his ex 
pressions, and the arrival of one of his letters was always 
celebrated by us as a holiday. The mode in which he replied 
to the complaints of his cousin, who feared blindness, was 
quite peculiar ; for he did not trouble himself about grounds 
of consolation, which are always hard to find ; but the 
cheerful way in which he looked upon his own narrow, poor, 
toilsome life, the merriment which he drew even from evils 
and inconveniences, the indestructible conviction that life is 
in itself and on its own account a blessing, communicated itse]f 
to him who read the letter, and, for the moment at least, trans 
posed him into a like mood. Enthusiastic as I was, I had often 
sent my compliments to this man, extolled his happy natural 
gift, and expressed the wish to become acquainted with him. 
All this being premised, nothing seemed to me more natural 
than to seek him out, to converse with him, nay, to lodge 
with him, and to learn to know him intimately. My good 



THE DRESDEN SHOEMAKER. 273 

Candidate, after some opposition, gave me a letter, written 
with difficulty, to carry with me, and, full of longing, I went 
to Dresden in the yellow coach, with my matriculation in my 
pocket. 

I looked for my shoemaker, and soon found him in the 
suburb (Vorstadt]. He received me in a friendly manner, 
sitting upon his stool, and said smiling, after he had read the 
letter, " I see from this, young Sir, that you are a whimsical 
Christian." "How so, master? 7 replied L "No offence 
meant by whimsical, he continued ; " one calls every one so 
who is not consistent with himself; and I call you a whimsical 
Christian because you acknowledge yourself a follower of our 
Lord in one thing, but not in another." On my requesting 
him to enlighten me, he said further : "It seems that your 
view is to announce glad tidings to the poor and lowly ; that 
is good, and this imitation of the Lord is praiseworthy ; but 
you should reflect besides, that he rather sat down to table 
with prosperous rich folks, where there was good fare, and 
that he himself did not despise the sweet scent of the oint 
ment, of which you will find the opposite in my house." 

This pleasant beginning put me at once in good-humour, 
and we rallied each other for some time. His wife stood 
doubting how she should board and lodge such a guest. On 
this point, too, he had notions which referred not only 
to the Bible, but also to Gottfried s Chronicle, and when we 
were agreed that I was to stay, I gave my purse, such as it 
was, into the charge of my hostess, and requested her to fur 
nish herself from it, if anything should be necessary. When 
he would have declined it, and somewhat waggishly gave me 
to understand that he was not so burnt out as he might 
appear, I disarmed him by saying, "Even if it were only 
to change water into wine, such a well-tried domestic re 
source would not be out of place, since there are no more 
miracles now-a-days." The hostess seemed to find iny con 
duct less and less strange ; we had soon accommodated our 
selves to each other, and spent a very merry evening. He 
remained always the same, because all flowed from one source. 
His peculiarity was an apt common-sense, which rested upon 
a cheerful disposition, and took delight in uniform habitual 
activity. That he should labour incessantly was his first and 
most necessary care, that he regarded everything else as 

T 



274 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

secondary, this kept up his comfortable state of mind ; and 
I must reckon him before many others in the class of those 
who are called practical unconscious philosophers.* 

The hour when the gallery was to open, after being expected 
with impatience, appeared. I entered into this sanctuary, 
and my astonishment surpassed every conception which I had 
formed. This saloon, returning into itself, in which splendour 
and neatness reigned, together with the deepest stillness, 
the dazzling frames, all nearer to the time in which they had 
been gilded, the floor polished with bees -wax, the spaces 
more trodden by spectators than used by copyists, imparted 
a feeling of solemnity, unique of its kind, which so much the 
more resembled the sensation with which one treads a church, 
as the adornments of so many a temple, the objects of so much 
adoration, seemed here again set up only for the sacred pur 
poses of art. I readily put up with the cursory description 
of my conductor ; only I requested that I might be allowed 
to remain in the outer gallery. Here, to my comfort, I found 
myself really at home. I had already seen the works of seve 
ral artists, others I knew from engravings, others by name. 
I did not conceal this, and I thus inspired my conductor with 
some confidence ; nay, the rapture which I expressed at pieces 
where the pencil had gained the victory over nature, delighted 
him; for such were the things which principally attracted 
me, where the comparison with known nature must necessa 
rily enhance the value of art. 

When I again entered my shoemaker s house to dinner, I 
scarcely believed my eyes ; for I fancied I saw before me a 
picture by Ostade, so perfect that one could only hang it up 
in the gallery. The position, of the objects, the light, the 
shadow, the brownish tint of the whole, the magical keeping, 
everything that one admires in those pictures, I here saw in 
reality. It was the first time that I perceived, in so high a 
degree, the faculty which I afterwards exercised with more 
consciousness, namely, that of seeing nature with the eyes of 
this or that artist, to whose works I had devoted a particular 
attention. This faculty has afforded me much enjoyment, 

* " Pratische thilosophen, bewusstlose Weltweisen." It is impossible 
to give two substantives, as in the original, since this is effected by using 
first the word of Greek, then the word of German origin, whereas we 
have but one. Trans. 



COUNSELLOR HIEDEL. 275 

but has also increased the desire zealously to abandon myself, 
from time to time, to the exercise of a talent which nature 
seemed to have denied me. 

I visited the gallery at all permitted hours, and continued 
to express too loudly my ecstacy at many precious works. 
I thus frustrated my laudable purpose of remaining unknown 
and unnoticed ; and whereas only one of the under-keepers 
had hitherto had intercourse with me, the gallery-inspector, 
Counsellor Kiedel, now also took notice of me, and made me 
attentive to many things which seemed chiefly to lie within 
my sphere. I found this excellent man just as active and 
obliging then, as when I afterwards saw him during many 
years, and as he shows himself to this day. His image has, 
for me, interwoven itself so closely with those treasures of 
art, that I can never regard the two apart ; the remembrance 
of him has even accompanied me to Italy, where, in many 
large and rich collections, his presence would have been very 
desirable. 

Since, even with strangers and unknown persons, one cannot 
gaze on such works silently and without mutual sympathy, nay, 
since the first sight of them is rather adapted, in the highest 
degree, to open hearts towards each other, I fell there into 
conversation with a young man who seemed to be residing at 
Dresden, and to belong to some embassy. He invited me to 
come in the evening to an inn where a lively company met, 
and where, by each one s paying a moderate reckoning, one 
could pass some very pleasant hours. 

I repaired thither, but did not find the company ; and the 
waiter somewhat surprised me when he delivered the compli 
ments of the gentleman who made the appointment with me, 
by which the latter sent an excuse for coming somewhat later, 
with the addition that I must not take offence at anything 
that might occur ; also, that I should have nothing to pay 
beyond my own score. I knew not what to make of these 
words ; my father s cobwebs came into my head, and I com 
posed myself to await whatever might befall. The company 
assembled, my acquaintance introduced me, and I could not 
be attentive long, without discovering that they were aiming 
at the mystification of a young man, who showed himself 
a novice by an obstreperous, assuming deportment ; I there 
fore kept very much on my guard, so that they might not 

T 2 



276 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

find delight in selecting me as his fellow. At table this 
intention became more apparent to everybody, except to 
himself. They drank deeper and deeper, and when a vivat 
in honour of sweethearts was started, every one solemnly 
swore that there should never be another out of those glasses ; 
they flung them behind them ; and this was the signal for 
far greater follies. At last I withdrew, very quietly, and the 
waiter, while demanding quite a moderate reckoning, re 
quested me to come again, as they did not go on so wildly 
every evening. I was far from my lodgings, and it was near 
midnight when I reached them. I found the doors unlocked, 
everybody was in bed, and one lamp illuminated the narrow 
domestic household, where my eye, more and more practised, 
immediately perceived the finest picture by Schalken, from 
which I could not tear myself away, so that it banished from 
me all sleep. 

The few days of my residence in Dresden were solely de 
voted to the picture-gallery. The antiquities still stood in 
the pavilion of the great garden, but I declined seeing them, 
as well as all the other precious things which Dresden con 
tained ; being but too full of the conviction that, even in and 
about the collection of paintings much must yet remain hid 
den from me. Thus I took the excellence of the Italian mas 
ters more on trust and in faith, than by pretending to any 
insight into them. What I could not look upon as nature, 
put in the place of nature, and compare with a known object, 
was without effect upon me. It is the material impression 
which makes the beginning even to every more elevated 
amateurship. 

With my shoemaker I lived on very good terms. He was 
witty and varied enough, and we often outvied each other in 
merry conceits ; nevertheless, a man who thinks himself happy, 
and desires others to do the same, makes us discontented; 
indeed, the repetition of such sentiments produces weariness. 
I found myself well occupied, entertained, excited, but 
by no means happy ; and the shoes from his last would not 
fit me. We parted, however, as the best friends ; and even 
my hostess, on my departure, was not dissatisfied with me. 

Shortly before my departure, something else very plea 
sant was to happen. By the mediation of that young man, 
who wished to restore himself to some credit with me, I was 



STATE OF DRESDEN. 277 

introduced to the Director Von Hagedorn, who with great 
kindness showed me his collection, and was highly delighted 
with the enthusiasm of the young lover of art. He himself, 
as becomes a connoisseur, was quite peculiarly in love with 
the pictures which he possessed, and therefore seldom found 
in others an interest such as he wished. It gave him parti 
cular satisfaction that I was beyond measure pleased with a 
picture by Schwanefeld, and that I was not tired of praising 
and extolling it in every single part ; for landscapes, which 
again reminded me of the beautiful clear sky under which I 
had grown up of the vegetable luxuriance of those spots 
and of whatever other favours a warmer climate offers to man, 
were just the things that most affected me in the imitation, 
while they awakened in me a longing remembrance. 

These precious experiences, preparing both mind and sense 
for true art, were nevertheless interrupted and damped by one 
of the most melancholy sights, by the destroyed and desolate 
condition of so many of the streets of Dresden through which 
I took my way. The Mohrenstrasse in ruins, and the Church 
(Kreuzkirche) of the Cross, with its shattered tower, impressed 
themselves deeply upon me, and still stand like a gloomy spot 
in my imagination. From the cupola of the Lady Church 
(Fraukirche) I saw these pitiable ruins scattered about amid 
the beautiful order of the city. Here the clerk commended 
to me the art of the architect, who had already fitted up 
church and cupola for so undesirable an event, and had built 
them bomb-proof. The good sacristan then pointed out to me 
the ruins on all sides, and said doubtfully and laconically, 
" The enemy hath done this ! 

Now then, at last, though unwillingly, I returned back to 
Leipzig, and found my friends, who were not used to such 
digressions in me, in great astonishment, busied with all sorts 
of conjectures as to what might be the import of my mysterious 
journey. When upon this I told them my story quite in 
order, they declared it was only a made-up tale, and saga 
ciously tried to get at the bottom of the riddle which I had 
been waggish enough to conceal under my shoemaker- 
lodgings. 

But could they have looked into my heart, they would have 
discovered no waggery there ; for the truth of that old pro 
verb, " He that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow," had 



278 TKUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

struck me with all its force ; and the more I struggled to 
arrange and appropriate to myself what I had seen, the less 
I succeeded. I had at last to content myself with a silent 
after-operation. Ordinary life carried me away again, and I 
at last felt myself quite comfortable when a friendly inter 
course, improvement in branches of knowledge which were 
suitable for me, and a certain practice of the hand, engaged 
me in a manner less important, but more in accordance with 
my strength. 

Very pleasant and wholesome for me was the connexion 
which I formed with the Breitkopf family. BERN HARD 
CHRISTOPH BREITKOPF, the proper founder of the family, 
who had come to Leipzig as a poor journeyman printer, was 
yet living, and occupied the Golden Bear, a respectable house 
in the new Newmarket, with Gottsched as an inmate. The 
son, Johann Gottlob Immanuel, had already been long mar 
ried, and was the father of many children. They thought 
they could not spend a part of their considerable wealth better 
than in putting up, opposite the first house, a large new one, 
the Silver Bear, which they built higher and more extensive 
than the original house itself. Just at the time of the build 
ing I became acquainted with the family. The eldest son 
might have been some years older than I was, a well-formed 
young man, devoted to music, and practised to play skilfully 
on both the piano and the violin. The second, a true, good soul, 
likewise musical, enlivened the concerts which were often got 
up, no less than his elder brother. They were both kindly dis 
posed towards me, as well as their parents and sisters. I lent 
them a helping-hand during the building up and the finishing, 
the furnishing and the moving in, and thus formed a concep 
tion of much that belongs to such an affair ; I also had an 
opportunity of seeing Oeser s instructions put in practice. In 
the new house, which I had thus seen erected, I was often a 
visitor. We had many pursuits in common, and the eldest 
son set some of my songs to music, which, when printed, bore 
his name, but not mine, and have been little known. I have 
selected the best, and inserted them among my other little 
poems. The father had invented or perfected musical type. 
lie permitted me the use of a fine library, which related 
principally to the origin and progress of printing, and , thus I 
gained some knowledge in that department. I found there, 



TASTE FOR ETCHING. 279 

moreover, good copper-plates, which exhibited antiquity, and 
advanced on this side also my studies, which were still further 
promoted by the circumstance that a considerable collection 
of sulphurs had fallen into disorder in moving. I set them 
right again as well as I could, and in doing so was compelled 
to search Lippert and other authorities. A physician, Doctor 
REICHEL, likewise an inmate of the house, I consulted from 
time to time when I felt, if not sick, yet unwell, and thus we 
led together a quiet, pleasant life. 

I was now to enter into another sort of connexion in this 
house ; for the copper-plate engraver, STOCK, had moved into 
the attic. He was a native of Nuremberg, a very industrious 
man, and, in his labours, precise and methodical. He also, 
like Geyser, engraved, after Oeser s designs, larger and 
smaller plates, which came more and more into vogue for 
novels and poems. He etched very neatly, so that his work 
came out of the aquafortis almost finished, and but little 
touching-up remained to be done with the graver, which he 
handled very well. He made an exact calculation how long 
a plate would occupy him, and nothing could call him off 
from his work if he had not completed the daily task he had 
set himself. Thus he sat at a broad work-table, by the great 
gable-window, in a very neat and orderly chamber, where his 
wife and two daughters afforded him a domestic society. Of 
these last, one is happily married, and the other is an excel 
lent artist ; they have continued my friends all my life long. 
I now divided my time between the upper and lower stories, 
and attached myself much to the man, who, together with his 
persevering industry, possessed an excellent humour, and was 
good- nature itself. 

The technical neatness of this branch of art charmed me, 
and I associated myself with him to execute something of the 
kind. My predilection was again directed towards landscape, 
which, while it amused me in my solitary walks, seemed in 
itself more attainable and more comprehensible for works of 
art than the human figure, which discouraged me. Under his 
directions, therefore, I etched, after THIELE and others, 
various landscapes, which, although executed by an unprac 
tised hand, produced some effect, and were well received. 
The grounding (varnishing) of the plates, the putting in the 
high lights, the etching, and at last the biting with aquafortis, 



280 TETJTH AND POETEY ; FEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

gave me variety of occupation, and I soon got so far that I 
could assist my master in many things. I did not lack the 
attention necessary for the biting, and I seldom failed in any 
thing ; but I had not care enough in guarding against the 
deleterious vapours which are generated on such occasions, 
and these may have contributed to the maladies which after 
wards troubled me for a long time. Amidst such labours, 
that everything might be tried, I often made wood-cuts also. 
I prepared various little printing-blocks after French patterns, 
and many of them were found fit for use. 

Let me here make mention of some other men who resided 
in Leipzig, or tarried there for a short time. WEISSE, the 
custom-house collector of the district, in his best years, cheer 
ful, friendly, and obliging, was lo^ed and esteemed by us. 
We would not, indeed, allow his theatrical pieces to be models 
throughout, but we suffered ourselves to be earned away by 
them, and his operas, set to music by Hiller in an easy style, 
gave us much pleasure. SCHIEBLEE, of Hamburgh, pursued 
the same track ; and his Lisuard and Dariolette was likewise 
favoured by us. ESCHENBUKG, a handsome young man, but 
little older than we were, distinguished himself advantageously 
among the students. ZACHAKI^E was pleased to spend some 
weeks with us, and being introduced by his brother, dined 
every day with us at the same table. We rightly deemed it 
an honour to gratify our guest in return, by a few extra 
dishes, a richer dessert, and choicer wine ; for, as a tall, well- 
formed, comfortable man, he did not conceal his love of good 
eating. LESSING came at a time when we had I know not 
what in our heads ; it was our good pleasure to go nowhere 
on his account, nay, even to avoid the places to which he 
came, probably because we thought ourselves too good to 
stand at a distance, and could make no pretension to obtain a 
closer intimacy with him. This momentary absurdity, which, 
however, is nothing rare in presuming and freakish youth, 
proved, indeed, its own punishment in the sequel ; for I have 
never set eyes on that eminent man, who was most highly 
esteemed by me. 

Notwithstanding all our efforts relative to art and anti 
quity, we each of us always had WINCKELMANN before our 
eyes, whose ability was acknowledged in his fatherland with 
enthusiasm. We read his writings diligently, and tried to 



DEATH OP WINCKELMANN. 281 

make ourselves acquainted with the circumstances tinder 
which he had written the first of them. We found in them 
many views which seemed to have originated with Oeser, 
even jests and whims after his fashion, and we did not rest 
until we had formed some general conception of the occasion 
on whicli these remarkable and sometimes so enigmatical 
writings had arisen, though we were not very accurate ; for 
youth likes better to be excited than instructed, and it was 
not the last time that I was to be indebted to Sibylline leaves 
for an important step in cultivation. 

It was then a fine period in literature, when eminent men 
were yet treated with respect, although the disputes of Klotz 
and Lessing s controversies, already indicated that this epoch 
would soon close. Winckelmann enjoyed an universal, unas- 
sailed reverence, and it is known how sensitive he was with 
regard to anything public which did not seem commensurate 
with his deeply felt dignity. All the periodical publications 
joined in his praise, the better class of tourists came back from 
him instructed and enraptured, and the new views which he 
gave extended themselves over science and life. The Prince 
of Dessau had raised himself up to a similar degree of respect. 
Young, well and nobly minded, he had on his travels and at 
other times show r n himself truly desirable. Winckelmann was 
in the highest degree delighted with him, and, whenever he 
mentioned him, loaded him with the handsomest epithets. 
The laying out of a park, then unique, the taste for architec 
ture, which Von Erdmannsdorf supported by his activity, every 
thing spoke in favour of a prince, who, while he was a shining 
example for the rest, gave promise of a golden age for his 
servants and subjects. We young people now learned with 
rejoicings that Winckelmann would return back from Italy, 
visit his princely friend, call on Oeser by the way, and so come 
within our sphere of vision. We made no pretensions to speak 
ing with him, but we hoped to see him ; and as at that time 
of life one willingly changes every occasion into a party of 
pleasure, we had already agreed upon a journey to Dessau, 
where, in a beautiful spot, made glorious by art, in a land well 
governed, and at the same time externally adorned, we thought 
to lie in wait now here, now there, in order to see with our 
own eyes these men so highly exalted above us walking about. 
Oeser himself was quite elated if he only thought of it, and 
the news of Winckelmann s death fell down into the midst 



282 TRUTH AND POETHY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

of us like a thunderbolt from a clear sky. I still remember 

%> 

the place where I first heard it ; it was in the court of the 
Pleissenburg, not far from the little gate through which one 
used to go up to Oeser s residence. One of my fellow-pupils 
met me and told me that Oeser was not to be seen, with the 
reason why. This monstrous event * produced a monstrous 
effect ; there was an universal mourning and lamentation, and 
Winckelmann s untimely death sharpened the attention paid to 
the value of his life. Perhaps, indeed, the effect of his activity, 
if he had continued it to a more advanced age, would probably 
not have been so great as it now necessarily became, when, like 
many other extraordinary men, he was distinguished by fate 
through a strange and calamitous end. 

Now, while I was infinitely lamenting the death of Winckel- 
mann, I did not think that I should soon find myself in the 
case of being apprehensive about my own life : since, during 
all these events, my bodily condition had not taken the most 
favourable turn. I had already brought with me from home a 
certain touch of hypochondria, which, in this new sedentary 
and lounging life, was rather strengthened than diminished. 
The pain in the breast, which I had felt from time to time 
ever since the accident at Auerstadt, and which after a fall 
from horseback had perceptibly increased, made me dejected. 
By an unfortunate diet, I destroyed my powers of digestion ; 
the heavy Merseburg beer clouded my brain ; the coffee, which 
gave me a peculiarly melancholy tone, especially when taken 
with milk after dinner, paralysed my bowels, and seemed com 
pletely to suspend their functions, so that I experienced great 
uneasiness on this account, yet without being able to embrace 
a resolution for a more rational mode of life. My natural dis 
position, supported by the sufficient strength of youth, fluctu 
ated between the extremes of unrestrained gaiety and melan 
choly discomfort. Besides this, the epoch of the cold water 
bath, which was unconditionally recommended, had then begun. 
One was to sleep on a hard bed, only slightly covered, by which 
all the usual perspiration was suppressed. These and other 
follies, in consequence of some misunderstood suggestions of 
Bousseau, would, it was promised, bring us nearer to nature, 
and deliver us from the corruption of morals. Now, all the 
above, without discrimination, applied with injudicious alter 
nation, were felt by many most injuriously, and I irritated my 
* Winckelmann was assassinated. Trans. 



DK. HEKMANN. 283 

happy organization to such a degree, that the particular sys 
tems contained within it necessarily broke out at last into a 
conspiracy and revolution, in order to save the whole. 

One night I awoke with a violent haemorrhage, and had just 
strength and presence of mind enough to waken my next room 
neighbour. Dr. Reichel was called in, who assisted me in the 
most friendly manner, and thus for many days I wavered 
betwixt life and death; and even the joy of a subsequent 
improvement was embittered by the circumstance that, during 
that eruption, a tumour had formed on the left side of the 
neck, which, after the danger was past, they now first found 
time to notice. Eecovery is, however, always pleasing and 
delightful, even though it takes place slowly and painfully ; 
and since nature had helped herself with me, I appeared now 
to have become another man : for I had gained a greater 
cheerfulness of mind than I had known for a long time, and I 
was rejoiced to feel my inner self at liberty, although externally 
a wearisome affliction threatened me. 

But what particularly set me up at this time was, to see 
how many eminent men had, undeservedly, given me their 
affection. Undeservedly, I say : for there was not one among 
them to whom I had not been troublesome through contradic 
tory humours, not one whom I had not more than once wounded 
by morbid absurdity, nay, whom I had not stubbornly avoided 
for a long time, from a feeling of my own injustice. All this 
was forgotten ; they treated me in the most affectionate man 
ner, and sought, partly in my chamber, partly as soon as I 
could leave it, to amuse and divert me. They drove out with 
me, entertained me at their country-houses, and I seemed soon 
to recover. 

Among these friends I name first of all Doctor HEEMAKK, 
then senator, afterwards burgomaster of Leipzig. He was 
among those boarders with whom I had become acquainted 
through Schlosser, the one with whom an always equable and 
enduring connexion was maintained. One might well reckon 
him the most industrious of his academical fellow- citizens. 
He attended his lectures with the greatest regularity, and his 
private industry remained always the same. Step by step, 
without the slightest deviation, I saw him attain his Doctor s 
degree, and then raise himself to the assessor ship, without any 
thing of all this appearing arduous to him, or his having in the 
least hurried or been too late with anything. The gentleness 



284 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

of his character attracted me, his instructive conversation held 
me fast; indeed I really believe that I took delight in his 
methodical industry especially for this reason, because I 
thought, by acknowledgments and high esteem, to appropriate 
to myself at least a part of a merit of which I could by no 
means boast. 

He was just as regular in the exercise of his talents and the 
enjoyment of his pleasures as in his business. He played the 
harpsichord with great skill, drew from nature with feeling, 
and stimulated me to do the same ; when, in his manner, on 
grey paper and with black and white chalk, I used to copy 
many a willow-plot on the Pleisse, and many a lovely nook of 
those still waters, and at the same time longingly to indulge 
in my fancies. He knew how to meet my sometimes comical 
disposition with merry jests, and I remember many pleasant 
hours which we spent together when he invited me, with mock 
solemnity, to a tete-a-tete supper, where, with some dignity, 
by the light of waxen candles, we ate what they call a council- 
hare, which had run into his kitchen as a perquisite of his 
place, and with many jokes in the manner of Behrisch, were 
pleased to season the meat and heighten the spirit of the wine. 
That this excellent man, who is still constantly labouring in 
his respectable office, rendered me the most faithful assistance 
during a disease, of which there was indeed a foreboding, but 
which had not been foreseen in its full extent, that he bestowed 
every leisure hour upon me, and by remembrances of former 
happy times, contrived to brighten the gloomy moment, I still 
acknowledge with the sincerest thanks, and rejoice that after 
so long a time I can give them publicly. 

Besides this worthy friend, GROENING of Bremen particu 
larly interested himself in me. I had made his acquaintance 
only a short time before, and first discovered his good feeling 
towards me during my misfortune ; I felt the value of this 
favour the more warmly, as no one is apt to seek a closer con 
nexion with invalids. He spared nothing to give me pleasure, 
to draw me away from musing on my situation, to hold up to 
my view and promise me recovery and a wholesome activity in 
the nearest future. How often have I been delighted, in the 
progress of life, to hear how this excellent man has in the 
weightiest affairs shown himself useful, and indeed a blessing 
to his native city. 

Here, too, it was that friend HORN uninterruptedly brought 



285 

into action his love and attention. The whole Breitkopf house 
hold, the Stock family, and many others, treated me like a near 
relative ; and thus, through the good- will of so many friendly 
persons, the feeling of my situation was soothed in the tenderest 
manner. 

I must here, however, make particular mention of a man, 
with whom I first became acquainted at this time, and whose 
instructive conversation so far blinded me to the miserable 
state in which I was, that I actually forgot it. This was LAN- 
GER, afterwards librarian at Wolfenbuttel. Eminently learned 
and instructed, he was delighted at my voracious hunger after 
knowledge, which, with the irritability of sickness, now broke 
out into a perfect fever. He tried to calm me by perspicuous 
summaries, and I have been very much indebted to his acquaint 
ance, short as it was, since he understood how to guide me in 
various ways, and made me attentive whither I had to direct 
myself at the present moment. I found myself the more 
obliged to this important man, as my intercourse exposed him 
to some danger : for when, after Behrisch, he got the situation 
of tutor to the young Count Lindenau, the father made it an 
express condition with the new Mentor that he should have 
no intercourse with me. Curious to become acquainted with 
such a dangerous subject, he contrived to see me frequently 
by assignation. I soon gained his affection, and he, more pru 
dent than Behrisch, called for me by night, we went walking 
together, conversed on interesting things, and at last I accom 
panied him to the very door of his mistress ; for even this ex- 
ternally severe, earnest, scientific man had not kept free from 
the toils of a very amiable lady. 

German literature, and with it my own poetical undertak 
ings, had already for some time become strange to me, and as 
is usually the result in such an auto-didactic circular course, I 
turned back towards the beloved ancients who still constantly, 
like distant blue mountains, distinct in their outlines and 
masses, but indiscernible in their parts and internal relations, 
bounded the horizon of my intellectual wishes. I made an 
exchange with Langer, in which I at last played the part of 
Glaucus and Diomedes ; I gave up to him whole baskets of 
German poets and critics, and received in return a number of 
Greek authors, the reading of whom was to give me recreation, 
even during the most tedious convalescence. 



286 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

The confidence which new friends repose in each other 
usually developes itself by degrees. Common occupation and 
tastes are the first things in which a mutual harmony shows 
itself ; then the mutual communication generally extends over 
past and present passions, especially over love affairs ; but it is 
a lower depth which opens itself, if the connexion is to be 
perfected ; the religious sentiments, the affairs of the heart 
which relate to the imperishable, are the things which both 
establish the foundation and adorn the summit of a friendship. 

The Christian religion was wavering between its own histo 
rically positive base and a pure deism, w r hich, grounded on 
morality, was in its turn to lay the foundation of ethics. The 
diversity of characters and modes of thought here showed itself 
in infinite gradations, especially when a leading difference was 
brought into play by the question arising as to how great a share 
the reason, and how great a share the feelings could and should 
bear a part in such convictions. The most lively and inge 
nious men showed themselves, in this instance, like butterflies, 
who, quite regardless of their caterpillar state, throw away the 
chrysalis veil in which they have grown up to their organic 
perfection. Others, more honestly and modestly minded, might 
be compared to the flowers, which, although they unfold them 
selves to the most beautiful bloom, yet do not tear themselves 
from the root, from the mother stalk, nay, rather through this 
family connexion first bring the desired fruit to maturity. Of 
this latter class was Langer ; for, although a learned man, and 
eminently versed in books, he would yet give the Bible a pecu 
liar pre-eminence over the other writings which have come 
down to us, and regard it as a document from which alone we 
could prove our moral and spiritual pedigree. He belonged 
to those who cannot conceive an immediate connexion with 
the great God of the universe ; a mediation, therefore, was 
necessary for him, an analogy to which he thought he could 
find everywhere, in earthly and heavenly things. His discourse, 
which was pleasing and consistent, easily found a hearing with 
a young man who, separated from worlcUy things by an annoy 
ing illness, found it highly desirable to turn the activity of his 
mind towards the heavenly. Grounded as I was in the Bible, 
all that was wanted was merely the faith to explain as divine 
that which I had hitherto esteemed in human fashion, a be 
lief, the easier for me, since I had made my first acquaintance 



EIOT AT LEIPZIG. 287 

with, that book as a divine one. To a sufferer, to one who felt 
himself delicate, nay, weak, the gospel was therefore welcome, 
and even though Langer, with all his faith, was at the same 
time a very sensible man, and firmly maintained that one 
should not let the feelings prevail, should not let oneself be led 
astray into mysticism, I could not have managed to occupy 
myself with the New Testament without feeling and enthusiasm. 

In such conversations we spent much time, and he grew 
so fond of me as an honest and well-prepared proselyte, that 
he did not scruple to sacrifice to me many of the hours destined 
for his fair one, and even to run the risk of being betrayed and 
looked upon unfavourably by his patron, like Behrisch. I re 
turned his affection in the most grateful manner ; and if what 
he did for me would have been of value at any time, I could 
not but regard it, in my present condition, as worthy of the 
highest honour. 

But as when the concert of our souls is most spiritually 
attuned, the rude shrieking tones of the world usually break in 
most violently and boisterously, and the contrast which has 
gone on exercising a secret control affects us so much the more 
sensibly when it comes forward all at once ; thus was I not to 
be dismissed from the peripatetic school of my Langer without 
having first witnessed an event, strange at least for Leipzig, 
namely, a tumult which the students excited, and that on the 
following pretence. Some young people had quarrelled with 
the city soldiers, and the affair had not gone off without vio 
lence. Many of the students combined together to revenge 
the injuries inflicted. The soldiers resisted stubbornly, and 
the advantage was not on the side of the very discontented 
academical citizens. It was now said that respectable persons 
had commended and rewarded the conquerors for their valiant 
resistance, and by this, the youthful feeling of honour and re 
venge was mightily excited. It was publicly said that on the 
next evening windows would be broken in, and some friends 
who brought me word that this was actually taking place, were 
obliged to carry me there, for youth and the multitude are 
always attracted by danger and tumult. There really began 
a strange spectacle. The otherwise open street was lined on 
one side with men who, quite quiet, without noise or move 
ment, were waiting to see what would happen. About a dozen 
young fellows were walking singly up and down the empty 



288 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

side-walk, with the greatest apparent composure, but as soon 
as they came opposite the marked house, they threw stones at 
the windows as they passed by, and this repeatedly as they re 
turned backwards and forwards, as long as the panes would 
rattle. Just as quietly as this was done, all at last dispersed, 
and the affair had no further consequences. 

With such a ringing echo of university exploits, I left Leip 
zig in the September of 1 768, in a comfortable hired coach, 
and in the company of some respectable persons of my acquaint 
ance. In the neighbourhood of Auerstadt I thought of that 
previous accident ; but I could not forebode that which many 
years afterwards would threaten me from thence with still 
greater danger ; just as little as in Gotha, where we had the 
castle shown to us, I could think in the great hall adorned with 
stucco figures, that so much favour and affection would befall 
me on that very spot. 

The nearer I approached my native city, the more I recalled 
to myself doubtingly the circumstances, prospects, and hopes 
with which I had left home, and it was a very disheartening 
feeling that I now returned, as it were, like one shipwrecked. 
Yet since I had not very much with which to reproach myself, 
I contrived to compose myself tolerably well ; however, the 
welcome was not without emotion. The great vivacity of my 
nature, excited and heightened by sickness, caused an impas 
sioned scene. I might have looked worse than I myself knew, 
since for a long time I had not consulted a looking-glass ; and 
who does not become used to himself? Enough, they silently 
resolved to communicate many things to me only by degrees, 
and before all things to let me have some repose both bodily 
and mental. 

My sister immediately associated herself with me, and as 
previously, from her letters, so I could now more in detail 
and accurately understand the circumstances and situation of 
the family. My father had, after my departure, concentrated 
all his didactic taste upon my sister, and in a house completely 
shut up, rendered secure by peace, and even cleared of lodgers, 
he had cut off from her almost every means of looking about 
and recreating herself abroad. She had by turns to pursue 
and work at French, Italian, and English, besides which he 
compelled her to practise a great part of the day 011 the harp 
sichord. Her writing also could not be neglected, and I had 



STATE OF GOETHE S FAMILY. 289 

already remarked that he had directed her correspondence with 
me, and had let his doctrines come to me through her pen. 
My sister was and still continued to be an undefinable being-, 
the most singular mixture of strength and weakness, of stub 
bornness and pliability, which qualities operated now united, 
now isolated by will and inclination. Thus she had, in a man 
lier which seemed to me fearful, turned the hardness of her 
character against her father, whom she did not forgive for hav 
ing hindered or embittered to her so many innocent joys for 
these three years, and of his good and excellent qualities she 
would not acknowledge even one. She did all that he com 
manded and arranged, but in the most unamiable manner in. 
the world. She did it in the established routine, but nothing 
more and nothing less. From love or a desire to please she 
accommodated herself to nothing, so that this was one of the 
first things ahout which my mother complained in a private 
conversation with me. But since love was as essential to my 
sister as to any human being, she turned her affection wholly 
on me. Her care in nursing and entertaining me absorbed all 
her time ; her female companions, who were swayed by her 
without her intending it, had likewise to contrive all sorts of 
things to be pleasing and consolatory to me. She was inven 
tive in cheering me up, and even developed some germs of 
comical humour which I had never known in her, and which 
became her very well. There soon arose between us a coterie- 
language, by which we could converse before all people without 
their understanding us, and she often used this gibberish with 
great pertness in the presence of our parents. 

My father was personally in tolerable comfort. He was in 
good health, spent a great part of the day in the instruction of 
my sister, wrote at the description of his travels, and was longer 
in tuning his lute than in playing on it. He concealed at the 
same time, as well as he could, his vexation at finding instead 
of a stout active son, who ought now to take his degree and 
run through the prescribed course of life, an invalid who seemed 
to suffer still more in soul than in body. He did not conceal 
his wish that they would be expeditious with my cure ; but 
one was forced to be specially on one s guard in his presence 
against hypochondriacal expressions, because he could then be 
come passionate and bitter. 

My mother, by nature very lively and cheerful, spent under 

u 



290 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

these circumstances very tedious days. Her little housekeep 
ing was soon provided for. The mind of the good lady, inter 
nally never unoccupied, wished to find an interest in something, 
and that which was nearest at hand was religion, which she 
embraced the more fondly as her most eminent female friends 
were cultivated and hearty worshippers of God. At the head 
of these stood Fraulein von Klettenberg. She is the same 
person from whose conversations and letters arose the " Con 
fessions of a Beautiful Soul," which are found inserted in 
" Wilhelm Meister." She was slenderly formed, of the middle 
size ; a hearty natural demeanour had been made still more 
pleasing by the manners of the world and the court. Her very 
neat attire reminded of the dress of the Hernhutt ladies. 
Her serenity and peace of mind never left her. She looked 
upon her sickness as a necessary element of her transient 
earthly existence ; she suffered with the greatest patience, and, 
in painless intervals, was lively and talkative. Her favourite, 
nay, indeed, perhaps her only conversation, was on the moral 
experiences which a man who observes himself can form in 
himself; to which was added the religious views which, in a 
very graceful manner, nay, with genius, came under her con 
sideration as natural and supernatural. It scarcely needs more 
to recall back to the friends of such representations, that com 
plete delineation composed from the very depths of her soul. 
Owing to the very peculiar course which she had taken from her 
youth upwards, the distinguished rank in which she had been 
born and educated, and the liveliness and originality of her 
mind, she did not agree very well with the other ladies who had 
set out on the same road to salvation. Frau Griesbach, the chief 
of them, seemed too severe, too dry, too learned ; she knew, 
thought, comprehended more than the others, who contented 
themselves with the development of their feelings, and she was 
therefore burdensome to them, because every one neither could 
nor would carry with her so great an apparatus on the road to 
bliss. But for this reason the most of them were indeed some 
what monotonous, since they confined themselves to a certain 
terminology which might well have been compared to that of 
the later sentimentalists. Fraulein von Klettenberg led her 
way between both extremes, and seemed, with some self-com 
placency, to see her own reflection in the image of Count Zin- 
zendorf, whose opinions and actions bore witness to a higher 



PRAETJLEIN TON KLETTENBERG. 291 

birth and more distinguished rank. Now she found in me what 
she needed, a lively young creature, striving after an unknown 
happiness, who, although he could not think himself an extra 
ordinary sinner, yet found himself in no comfortable condition, 
and was perfectly healthy neither in body nor soul. She was 
delighted with what nature had given me, as well as with 
much which I had gained for myself. And if she conceded to 
me many advantages, this was by no means humiliating to her : 
for, in the first place, she never thought of emulating one of 
the male, sex, and secondly, she believed that in regard to reli 
gious culture she was very much in advance of me. My dis 
quiet, my impatience, my striving, my seeking, investigating, 
musing, and wavering, she interpreted in her own way, and 
did not conceal from me her conviction, but assured me in plain 
terms that all this proceeded from my having no reconciled God. 
Now I had believed from my youth upwards that I stood on 
very good terms with my God, nay, I even fancied to myself, 
according to various experiences, that He might even be in 
arrears to me ; and I was daring enough to think that I had 
something to forgive Him. This presumption was grounded on 
my infinite good- will, to w r hich, as it seemed to me, He should 
have given better assistance. It may be imagined how often. 
I and my female friend fell into disputes on this subject, which, 
however, always terminated in the friendliest way, and often, 
like my conversations with the old rector, with the remark : 
" that I was a foolish fellow, for whom many allowances must 
be made." 

I was much troubled with the tumour in my neck, as the 
physician and surgeon wished first to disperse this excrescence, 
afterwards, as they said, to draw it to a head, and at last 
thought good to open it ; so for a long time I had to suffer 
more from inconvenience than pain, although towards the end 
of the cure, the continual touching with lunar caustic and other 
corrosive substances could not but give me very disagreeable 
prospects for every fresh day. The physician and surgeon 
both belonged to the Pious Separatists, although both were of 
highly different natural characters. The surgeon, a slender, 
well-built man, of easy and skilful hand, was unfortunately 
somewhat hectic, but endured his condition with truly Chris 
tian patience, and did not suffer his disease to perplex him. in 
his profession. The physician was an inexplicable, sly-look- 



292 TKTJTH AND POETUY ; PHOM MY OWN LIFE. 

ing, friendly-speaking, and, moreover, abstruse man, who had 
gained himself quite a peculiar confidence in the pious circle. 
Active and attentive, he was consoling to the sick ; but, more 
than by all this, he extended his practice by the gift of show 
ing in the background some mysterious medicines prepared by 
himself, of which no one could speak, since, with us, the phy 
sicians were strictly prohibited from making up their own pre 
scriptions. With certain powders, which may have been some 
kind of digestive, he was not so reserved ; but that powerful 
salt, which could only be applied in the greatest danger, was 
only mentioned among believers, although no one had yet seen 
it or traced its effects. To excite and strengthen our faith in 
the possibility of such an universal remedy, the physician,, 
wherever he found any susceptibility, had recommended cer 
tain chemico-alchemical books to his patients, and given them 
to understand that by one s own study of them, one could well 
attain this treasure for oneself; which was the more neces 
sary, as the mode of its preparation, both for physical and 
especially for moral reasons, could not be well communicated ; 
nay, that in order to comprehend, produce and use this great 
work, one must know the secrets of nature in connexion, since it 
was not a particular but an universal remedy, and could indeed 
be produced under different forms and shapes. My friend had 
listened to these enticing words. The health of the body was too 
nearly allied to the health of the soul ; and could a greater 
benefit, a greater mercy be shown towards others, than by appro 
priating to oneself a remedy by which so many sufferings could 
be assuaged, so many a danger averted ? She had already secretly 
studied Welling s Opus mago-cabalisticum, for which, however, 
as the author himself immediately darkens and removes the 
light he imparts, she was looking about for a friend who, in this 
alternation of glare and gloom, might bear her company. It 
needed small incitement to inoculate me also with this disease. 
I procured the work, which, like all writings of this kind, 
-could trace its pedigree in a direct line up to the Neo-Platonic 
school. My chief labour in this book was most accurately to 
notice the dark hints by which the author refers from one pas- 
sage to another, and thus promises to reveal what he conceals; 
and to mark down on the margin the number of the page where 
such passages as should explain each other were to be found. 
But even thus the book still remained dark and unintelligible 



ALCHEMICAL TUHN. 293 

enough ; except that one at last studied oneself into a cer 
tain terminology, and, by using it according to one s own fancy, 
believed that one was at any rate saying, if not understanding, 
something. The before-mentioned work makes very honourable 
mention of its predecessors, and we were incited to investigate 
those original sources themselves. We turned to the works of 
Theophrastus, Paracelsus and Basilius Valentinus ; as well as 
to those of Helmont, Starkey, and others whose doctrines and 
directions, resting more or less on nature and imagination, we 
endeavoured to see into and follow out. I was particularly 
pleased with the Aurea Catena Homeri, in which nature, 
though perhaps in fantastical fashion, is represented in a beau 
tiful combination ; and thus sometimes by ourselves, sometimes 
together, we employed much time on these singularities, and 
spent the evenings of a long winter, during which I was com 
pelled to keep my chamber, very agreeably, since we three, 
my mother being included, were more delighted with these 
secrets than we could have been at their elucidation. 

In the meantime a very severe trial was preparing for me ; 
for a disturbed, and one might even say, for certain moments, 
destroyed digestion, excited such symptoms that, in great tri 
bulation, I thought I should lose my life, and none of the 
remedies applied would produce any further effect. In this 
last extremity, my distressed mother constrained the embar 
rassed physician with the greatest vehemence to come out 
with his universal medicine ; after a long refusal, he hastened 
home at the dead of night, and returned with a little glass of 
crystallized dry salt, which was dissolved in water, and swal 
lowed by the patient. It had a decidedly alkaline taste. The 
salt was scarcely taken than my situation appeared relieved, 
and from that moment the disease took a turn which, by 
degrees, led to my recovery. I cannot say how far this 
strengthened and enhanced our faith in our physician, and 
our industry to make ourselves partakers of such a treasure. 

My friend, who, without parents or brothers and sisters, lived 
in a large, well-situated house, had already before this begun 
to purchase herself a little air-furnace, alembics and retorts of 
moderate size ; and, in accordance with the hints of Welling, 
and the significant signs of our physician and master, ope 
rated principally on iron, in which the most healing powers 
were said to be concealed, if one onlv knew how to open it. 



294 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

And as the volatile salt which must be produced made a great 
figure in all the writings with which we were acquainted, so, 
for these operations, alkalies also were required, which, while 
they flowed away into the air, were to unite with these super- 
terrestrial things, and at last produce per se, a mysterious and 
excellent neutral salt. 

Scarcely was I in some measure recovered, and, favoured 
by the change in the season, able once more to occupy my old 
gable- chamber, than I also began to provide myself with a 
little apparatus. A small air-furnace with a sand-bath was 
prepared, and I very soon learned to change the glass alem 
bics, with a piece of burning match-cord, into vessels in which 
the different mixtures were to be evaporated. Now were 
the strange ingredients of the macrocosm and microcosm 
handled in an odd, mysterious manner, and before all I at 
tempted to produce neutral salts in an unheard-of way. But 
what busied me most, for a long time, was the so-called 
Liquor Silicum (flint- juice), which is made by melting down 
pure quartz-flint with a proper proportion of alkali, whence 
results a transparent glass, which melts away on exposure to 
the air, and exhibits a beautiful clear fluidity. Whoever 
has once prepared this himself, and seen it with his own eyes, 
will not blame those who believe in a maiden earth, and in 
the possibility of producing further effects upon it by means 
of it. I had acquired a peculiar dexterity in preparing this 
Liquor Silicum ; the fine white flints which are found in the 
Maine furnished a perfect material for it ; and I was not want 
ing in the other requisites, nor in diligence. But I became 
weary at last, because I could not but remark that the flinty 
substance was by no means so closely combined with the salt 
as I had philosophically imagined ; for it very easily separated 
itself again, and this most beautiful mineral fluidity, which, 
to my greatest astonishment, had sometimes appeared in the 
form of an animal jelly, always deposited a powder, which I 
was forced to pronounce the finest flint dust, but which gave 
not the least sign of anything productive in its nature, from 
which one could have hoped to see this maiden earth pass 
into the maternal state. 

Strange and unconnected as these operations were, I yet 
learned many things from them. I paid strict attention to 
all the crystallizations that might occur, and became acquainted 



CHARACTER OF THE LETTERS 1FR01M LEIPZIG. 295 

with, the external forms of many natural things, and inasmuch 
as I well knew that in modern times chemical subjects Avere 
treated more methodically, I wished to get a general con 
ception of them, although, as a half-adept, I had very 
little respect for the apothecaries and all those who operated 
with common fire. However, the chemical Compendium of 
Boerhaave attracted me powerfully, and led me on to read 
several of his writings, in which (since, moreover, my tedious 
illness had inclined me towards medical subjects,) I found 
an inducement to study also the Aphorisms of this excellent 
man, which I was glad to stamp upon my mind and in my 
memory. 

Another employment, somewhat more human, and by far 
more useful for my cultivation at the moment, was reading 
through the letters which I had w r ritten home from Leipzig. 
Nothing reveals more with respect to ourselves, than when 
we again see before us that which has proceeded from us years 
before, so that we can now consider ourselves as an object of 
contemplation. Only, in truth, I was then too young, and the 
epoch which was represented by those papers was still too 
near. As in our younger years we do not in. general easily 
cast off a certain self-complacent conceit, this especially 
shows itself in despising what we have been but a little time 
before ; for while, indeed, we perceive, as we advance from 
step to step, that those things which we regard as good and 
excellent in ourselves and others do not stand their ground, 
we think we can best extricate ourselves from this dilemma 
by ourselves throwing away what we cannot preserve. So 
it was with me also. For as in Leipzig I had gradually 
learned to set little value on my childish labours, so now my 
academical course seemed to me likewise of small account, 
and I did not understand that for this very reason it must be 
of great value to me, as it elevated me to a higher degree of 
observation and insight. My father had carefully collected 
and sewed together my letters to him, as well as those to my 
sister ; nay, he had even corrected them with attention, and 
improved the mistakes both in writing and in grammar. 

What first struck me in these letters was their exterior ; 
I was shocked at an incredible carelessness in the handwriting, 
which extended from October, 1765, to the middle of the fol 
lowing January. But, in the middle of March, there appeared 



296 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

all at once a quite compressed, orderly hand, such as I used 
formerly to employ in writing for a prize. My astonishment 
at this resolved itself into gratitude towards the good Gellert, 
who, as I now well remembered, whenever we handed in our 
essays to him, represented to us, in his hearty tone of voice, 
that it was our sacred duty to practise our hand as much, 
nay, more than our style. He repeated this as often as any 
scrawled, careless writing came into his sight ; on which occa 
sion he often said that he would much like to make a good 
hand of his pupils the principal end in his instructions ; the 
more so as he had often remarked that a good hand led the 
way to a good style. 

I could further notice that the French and English passages 
in my letters, although not free from blunders, were never 
theless written with facility and freedom. These languages 
I had likewise continued to practise in my correspondence 
with George Schlosser, who was still at Treptow, and I had 
remained in constant communication with him, by which I 
was instructed in many secular affairs (for things did not 
always turn out with him quite as he had hoped), and acquired 
an ever increasing confidence in his earnest, noble way of 
thinking. 

Another consideration which could not escape me in read 
ing through these letters, was that my good father, with the 
best intentions, had done me a special mischief, and had led 
me into that odd way of life into which I had fallen at last. 
He bad, namely, repeatedly warned me against card-playing ; 
but Frau Hofrath Bohme, as long as she lived, contrived to 
persuade me, after her own fashion, by declaring that my 
lather s warnings were only against the abuse. Now as I 
likewise saw the advantages of it in society, I easily suffered 
myself to be led by her. I had indeed the sense of play, but 
not the spirit of play ; I learned all games easily and rapidly, 
but I could never keep up the proper attention for a whole 
evening. Therefore, when 1 began very well, I invariably 
failed at the end, and made myself and others lose ; through 
which I went off, always out of humour, either to the supper- 
table or out of J;he company. Scarcely was Madame Bohme 
dead, who, moreover, had no longer kept me in practice 
during her tedious illness, than my father s doctrine gained 
force - y I at first excused myself from the card- tables, and as 






TASTE FOR DRAWING REVIVED. 29? 

they now did not know what else to do with me, I became 
even more of a burden to myself than to others, and declined 
the imitations, which then became more rare, and at last 
ceased altogether. Play, which is much to be recommended 
to young people, especially to those who have a practical 
sense, and wish to look about in the world for themselves, 
could never, indeed, become a passion with me ; for I never 
got further, though I might play as long as I w r ould. Had 
any one given me a general view of the subject, and made me 
observe how here certain signs and more or less of chance 
form a kind of material on which judgment and activity 
can exercise themselves had any one made me see several 
games at once, I might sooner have become reconciled. With 
all this, at the time of which I am now speaking, I had come 
to the conviction, from the above considerations, that one 
should not avoid social games, but should rather strive after a 
certain dexterity in them. Time is infinitely long, and each / 
day is a vessel into which a great deal may be poured, if one 
will actually fill it up. 

Thus variously was I occupied in my solitude ; the more 
so, as the departed spirits of the different tastes to which 
I had from time to time devoted myself, had an opportunity 
to reappear. I thus went again to drawing ; and as I always 
wished to labour directly from nature, or rather from reality, 
I made a picture of my chamber, with its furniture, and the 
persons who were in it ; and when this no more amused me, 
I represented all sorts of town-tales, which were told at the 
time, and in which interest was taken. All this was not 
without character and a certain taste, but unfortunately the 
figures lacked proportion and the proper vigour, besides which 
the execution was extremely misty. My father, who continued 
to take pleasure in these things, wished to have them more 
distinct ; everything must be finished and properly completed. 
He therefore had them mounted and surrounded with ruled 
lines ; nay, the painter Morgenstern, his domestic artist the 
same who afterwards made himself known, and indeed famous, 
by his church- views had to insert the perspective lines of the 
rooms and chambers, which then, indeed, stood in pretty harsh 
contrast with those cloudy-looking figures. In this manner 
he thought constantly to compel me to greater accuracy, and, 
to please him, I drew various objects of still life, in which, 

. s -/ j // ** /* cf I / i, 

f+-ls U>*i&iLm M*> ) r\st-V( 

J&S J* ^V -*/ 




298 TEUTH AND POETRY; FEOM MY OWX LIFE. 

since the originals stood as patterns before me, I could work with 
more distinctness and precision. At last I took it into my head 
to etch once more. I had composed a tolerably interesting 
landscape, and felt myself very happy when I could look out 
for the old receipts given me by Stock, and could, at my work, 
call to mind those pleasant times. I soon bit the plate and 
had a proof taken. Unluckily the composition was without 
light and shade, and I now tormented myself to bring in 
both ; but as it was not quite clear to me what was really 
the essential point, I could not finish. Up to this time I 
had been quite well, after my own fashion; but now a 
disease attacked me which had never troubled me before. 
My throat, namely, had become completely sore, and particu 
larly what is called the uvula very much inflamed; I could only 
swallow with great pain, and the physicians did not know what 
to make of it. They tormented me with gargles and hair- 
pencils, but could not free me from my misery. At last it 
struck me that I had not been careful enough in the biting 
of my plates, and that by often and passionately repeating it, 
I had contracted this disease, and had always revived and in 
creased it. To the physicians this cause was plausible and very 
soon certain on my leaving my etching and biting, and that so 
much the more readily as the attempt had by no means turned 
out well, and I had more reason to conceal than to exhibit my 
labours ; for which I consoled myself the more easily, as I 
very soon saw myself free from the troublesome disease. 
Upon this I could not refrain from the reflection that my simi 
lar occupations at Leipzig might have greatly contributed to 
those diseases from which I. had suffered so much. It is, in 
deed, a tedious, and withal a melancholy business to take too 
much care of ourselves, and of what injures and benefits us ; 
but there is no question but that with the wonderful idiosyn 
crasy of human nature on the one side, and the infinite variety 
in the mode of life and pleasure on the other, it is a wonder that 
the human race has not worn itself out long ago. Human nature 
appears to possess a peculiar kind of toughness and many- 
sidedness, since it subdues everything which approaches it, or 
which it takes into itself, and if it cannot assimilate, at least 
makes it indifferent. In case of any great excess, indeed, it 
must yield to the elements in spite of all resistance, as the 
many endemic diseases and the effects of brandy convince 



SURVEY OF WORKS WRITTEN AT LEIPZIG. 299 

us. Could \ve, without being morbidly anxious, keep watch 
over ourselves as to what operates favourably or unfavourably 
upon us in our complicated civil and social life, and would we 
leave off what is actually pleasant to us as an enjoyment, for 
the sake of the evil consequences, we should thus know how 
to remove with ease many an inconvenience which, with a 
constitution otherwise sound, often troubles us more than even 
a disease. Unfortunately, it is in dietetics as in morals; 
we cannot see into a fault till we have got rid of it; by 
which nothing is gained, for the next fault is not like the 
preceding one, and therefore cannot be recognised under the 
same form. 

In reading through those letters which had been written 
from Leipzig to my sister, this remark, among others, could 
not escape me, that from the very beginning of my academical 
course, I had esteemed myself very clever and wise, since, as 
soon as I had learned anything, I put myself in the place of the 
professor, and so became didactic on the spot. I was amused 
to see how I had immediately applied to my sister whatever 
Gellert had imparted or advised in his lectures, without seeing 
that both in life and in books, a thing may be proper for a young 
man without being suitable for a young lady ; and we both 
together made merry over these mimicries. The poems also 
which I had composed in Leipzig were already too poor for 
me ; and they seemed to me cold, dry, and in respect to that 
which was meant to express the state of the human heart or 
mind, too superficial. This induced me, now that I was to 
leave my father s house once more, and go to a second univer 
sity, again to decree a great high auto dafe against rny labours. 
Several commenced plays, some of which had reached the 
third or the fourth act, while others had only the plot fully 
made out, together with many other poems, letters, and 
papers, were given over to the fire, and scarcely anything 
was spared except the manuscript by Behrisch, Die Laune des 
Verliebten and Die Mitschuldigen, which last I constantly went 
on improving with peculiar affection, and, as the piece was 
already complete, I again worked over the plot, to make it 
more bustling and intelligible. Lessing, in the first two acts 
of his Minna, had set up an unattainable model of the way 
in which a drama should be developed, and nothing was to 
me of greater concern than to enter thoroughly into his mind 
and his views. 



300 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

The recital of whatever moved, excited, and occupied me 
at this time, is already circumstantial enough; but I must 
nevertheless again recur to that interest with which super- 
sensuous things had inspired me, of which I, once for all, so 
far as might be possible, undertook to form some notion. 

I experienced a great influence from an important work 
that fell into my hands ; it was Arnold s History of the Church 
and of Heretics. This man is not merely a reflective histo 
rian, but at the same time pious and feeling. His sentiments 
chimed in very well with mine, and what particularly de 
lighted me in his work was, that I received a more favourable 

i 

notion of many heretics, who had been hitherto represented to 
me as mad or impious. The spirit of contradiction and the love 
of paradoxes stick fast in us all. I diligently studied the differ 
ent opinions, and as I had often enough heard it said that 
every man has his own religion at last, so nothing seemed 
more natural to me than that I should form mine too, and this 
I did with much satisfaction. The Neo-Platonism lay at the 
foundation ; the hermetical, the mystical, the cabalistic, also 
contributed their share, and thus I built for myself a world 
that looked strange enough. 

I could well represent to myself a Godhead which has gone 
on producing itself from all eternity ; but as production can 
not be conceived without multiplicity, so it must of neces 
sity have immediately appeared to itself as a Second, which we 
recognise under the name of the Son ; now these two must 
continue the act of producing, and again appear to themselves 
in a Third, which was just as substantial, living, and eternal as 
the Whole. With these, however, the circle of the Godhead was 
complete, and it would not have been possible for them to pro 
duce another perfectly equal to them. But since, however, the 
work of production always proceeded, they created a fourth, 
which already fostered in himself a contradiction, inasmuch as 
it was, like them, unlimited, and yet at the same time was to 
be contained in them and bounded by them. Now this was 
Lucifer, to whom the whole power of creation was committed 
from this time, and from whom all other beings were to pro 
ceed. He immediately displayed his infinite activity by creat 
ing the whole body of angels ; all, again, after his own likeness, 
unlimited, but contained in him and bounded by him. Sur 
rounded by such a glory, he forgot his higher origin, and 



CONCOCTION OF A SYSTEM OE THEOLOGY. 301 

\ 

believed that lie could find himself in himself, and from this 
first ingratitude sprang all that does not seem to us in accord 
ance with the will and purposes of the Godhead. Now the 
more he concentrated himself within himself, the more painful 
must it have become to him, as well as to all the spirits whose 
sweet uprising to their origin he had embittered. And so that 
happened which is intimated to us under the form of the Fall 
of the Angels. One part of them concentrated itself with Lu 
cifer, the other turned itself again to its origin. From this 
concentration of the whole creation, for it had proceeded out 
of Lucifer, and was forced to follow him, sprang all that we 
perceive under the form of matter, which we figure to ourselves 
as heavy, solid, and dark, but which, since it is descended, if 
not even immediately, yet by filiation, from the Divine Being, 
is just as unlimited, powerful, and eternal as its sire and grand- 
sire. Since now the whole mischief, if we may call it so, 
merely arose through the one-sided direction of Lucifer, the 
better half was indeed wanting to this creation ; for it pos 
sessed all that is gained by concentration, while it lacked all 
that can be effected by expansion alone ; and so the whole 
creation could have destroyed itself by everlasting concentra 
tion, could have annihilated itself with its father Lucifer, and 
have lost all its claims to an equal eternity with the Godhead. 
This condition the Elohim contemplated for a time, and they 
had their choice, to wait for those .^Eons, in which the field 
would again have become clear, and space would be left them 
for a new creation ; or, if they w r ould, to seize upon that which 
existed already, and supply the want, according to their own 
eternity. Now they chose the latter, and by their mere will 
supplied in an instant the whole want which the consequence 
of Lucifer s undertaking drew after it. They gave to the 
Eternal Being the faculty of expanding itself, of moving itself 
towards them ; the peculiar pulse of life was again restored, 
and Lucifer himself could not avoid its effects. This is the 
epoch when that appeared which we know as light, and when 
that began which we are accustomed to designate by the word 
creation. Greatly now as this multiplied itself by progressive 
degrees, through the continually working vital power of the 
Elohim, still a being was wanting who might be able to restore 
the original connexion with the Godhead ; and thus man was 
produced, who in all things was to be similar, yea, equal to 



302 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

the Godhead ; but thereby, in effect, found himself once more 
in the situation of Lucifer, that of being at once unlimited and 
bounded ; and, since this contradiction was to manifest itself in 
him through all the categories of existence, and a perfect con 
sciousness, as well as a decided will, was to accompany his 
various conditions, it was to be foreseen that he must be at 
the same time the most perfect and the most imperfect, the 
most happy and the most unhappy creature. It was not long 
before he, too, completely played the part of Lucifer. True 
ingratitude is the separation from the benefactor, and thus 
that fall was manifest for the second time, although the whole 
creation is nothing and was nothing but a falling from and 
returning to the original. 

One easily sees how the Redemption is not only decreed 
from eternity, but is considered as eternally necessary, nay, 
that it must ever renew itself through the whole time of gene 
ration* and existence. In this view of the subject, nothing is 
more natural than for the Divinity himself to take the form of 
man, which had already prepared itself as a veil, and to share 
his fate for a short time, in order, by this assimilation, to 
enhance his joys and alleviate his sorrows. The history of all 
religions and philosophies teaches us that this great truth, indis 
pensable for man, has been handed down by different nations, 
in different times, in various ways, and even in strange fables 
and images, in accordance with their limited knowledge ; 
enough, if it only be acknowledged that we find ourselves in 
a condition which, even if it seems to drag us down and oppress 
us, yet gives us opportunity, nay, even makes it our duty, to 
raise ourselves up, and to fulfil the purposes of the Godhead 
in this manner, that while we are compelled on the one hand 
to concentrate ourselves (uns zu verselbsten\ we, on the other 
hand, do not omit to expand ourselves (uns zu entselbstigeri) in 
regular pulsation.f 

" Das Werden," the state of becoming, as distinguished from that of 
being. The word, which is most useful to the Germans, can never be ren 
dered properly in English. Trans. 

f If we could make use of some such verbs as " inself " and " unself," 
we should more accurately render this passage. Trans. 



NINTH BOOK. 



" THE heart is often affected, moreover, to tlie advantage of 
different, but especially of social and refined virtues, and the 
more tender sentiments are excited and nnfolded in it. Many 
touches, in particular, will impress themselves, which give 
the young reader an insight into the more hidden corner 
of the human heart and its passions a knowledge which is 
more worth than all Latin and Greek, and of which Ovid was 
a very excellent master. But yet it is not on this account 
that the classic poets, and therefore Ovid, are placed in the 
hands of youth. We have from the kind Creator a variety of 
mental powers, to which we must not neglect giving their 
proper culture in our earliest years, and which cannot be 
cultivated either by logic or metaphysics, Latin or Greek. 
We have an imagination, before which, since it should not 
seize upon the very first conceptions that chance to present 
themselves, we ought to place the fittest and most beautiful 
images, and thus accustom and practise the mind to recognise 
and love the beautiful everywhere, and in nature itself, under 
its determined, true, and also in its finer features. A great 
quantity of conceptions and general knowledge is necessary 
to us, as well for the sciences as for daily life, which can be 
learned out of no compendium. Our feelings, affections, and 
passions should be advantageously developed and purified/ 

This important passage, which is found in the Universal 
German Library r , was not the only one of its kind. Similar 
principles and similar views manifested themselves in many 
directions. They made upon us lively youths a very great 
impression, which had the more decided effect, as it was 
strengthened besides by Wieland s example ; for the works 
of his second brilliant period clearly showed that he had 
formed himself according to such maxims. And what more 
could we desire ? Philosophy, with its abstruse questions, 
was set aside the classic languages, the acquisition of which 
is accompanied by so much drudgery, one saw thrust into the 



304 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN I.TPE. 

background the compendiurns, about the sufficiency of which 
Hamlet had already whispered a doubtful word into the ear, 
came more and more into suspicion. We were directed to 
the contemplation of an active life, which we were so fond of 
leading, and to the knowledge of the passions which we partly 
felt, partly anticipated, in our own bosoms, and which, if 
though they had been rebuked formerly, now appeared to us as 
something important and dignified, because they were to be the 
chief object of our studies, and the knowledge of them was ex 
tolled as the most excellent means of cultivating our mental 
powers. Besides this, such a mode of thought was quite in 
accordance with my own conviction, nay, with my poetical 
mode of treatment. I therefore, without opposition, after I 
had thwarted so many good designs, and seen so many fair 
hopes vanish, reconciled myself to rny father s intention of 
sending me to Strasburg, where I was promised a cheerful, 
gay life, while I should prosecute my studies, and at last take 
my degree. 

In spring I felt my health, but still more my youthful 
spirits, again restored, and once more longed to be out of my 
father s house, though with reasons far different from those on 
the first time. The pretty chambers and spots where I had 
suffered so much had become disagreeable to me, and with 
2ny father himself there could be no pleasant relation. I 
could not quite pardon him for having manifested more impa 
tience than was reasonable at the relapse of my disease, and 
at my tedious recovery ; nay, for having, instead of comfort 
ing me by forbearance, frequently expressed himself in a cruel 
manner, about that which lay in no man s hand, as if it de 
pended only on the will. And he, too, was in various ways 
Kurt and offended by me. 

For young people bring back from the university general 
ideas, which, indeed, is quite right and good; but because 
they fancy themselves very wise in this, they apply them as 
a standard to the objects that occur, which must then, for the 
most part, lose by the comparison. Thus I had gained a general 
notion of architecture, and of the arrangement and decoration 
of houses, and imprudently, in conversation, had applied this 
to our own house. My father had designed the whole arrange 
ment of it, and carried through the building with great per 
severance, and, considering that it was to be exclusively a 



ARRIVAL AT STRASBURG. 305 

residence for himself and his family, nothing could be objected 
to it ; in this taste, also, very many of the houses in Frank 
fort were built. An open staircase ran up through the house, 
and touched upon large ante-rooms, which might very well 
have been chambers themselves, as, indeed, we always passed 
the fine season in them. But this pleasant, cheerful existence 
for a single family this communication from above to below 
became the greatest inconvenience as soon as several parties 
occupied the house, as we had but too well experienced on 
the occasion of the French quartering. For that painful 
scene with the king s lieutenant would not have happened, 
nay, my father would even have felt all those disagreeable 
matters less, if, after the Leipzig fashion, our staircase had 
run close along the side of the house, and a separate door had 
been given to each story. This style of building I once 
praised highly for its advantages, and showed my father the 
possibility of altering his staircase also ; whereupon he fell 
into an incredible passion, which was the more violent as, a 
short time before, I had found fault with some scrolled look 
ing-glass frames, and rejected certain Chinese hangings. A 
scene ensued, which, indeed, was again hushed up and 
smothered, but it hastened my journey to the beautiful Alsace, 
which I- accomplished in the newly-contrived comfortable 
diligence, without delay, and in a short time. 

I alighted at the Ghost (Geisf) tavern, and hastened at 
once to satisfy my most earnest desire and to approach the 
minster, which had long since been pointed out to me by 
fellow-travellers, and had been before my eyes for a great 
distance. When I first perceived this Colossus through the 
narrow lanes, and then stood too near before it, in the truly 
confined little square, it made upon me an impression quite of 
its own kind, which I, being unable to analyse it on the spot, 
carried with me only indistinctly for this time, as I hastily 
ascended the building, so as not to neglect the beautiful mo 
ment of a high and cheerful sun, which was to disclose to nie 
at once the broad, rich land. 

And now, from the platform, I saw before me the beautiful 
region in which I should for a long time live and reside : the 
handsome city, the wide-spreading meadows around it, thickly 
set and interwoven with magnificent trees, that striking 
richness of vegetation which follows in the windings of the 

X 



306 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

Rhine, marks its banks, islands, and aits. Nor is the level 
ground, stretching down from the south, and watered by 
the Iller, less adorned with varied green. Even westward, 
towards the mountains, there are many low grounds which 
afford quite as charming a view of wood and meadow-growth, 
just as the northern and more hilly part is intersected by in 
numerable little brooks, which promote a rapid vegetation 
everywhere. If one imagines, between these luxuriant out 
stretched meads, between these joyously scattered groves, all 
land adapted for tillage, excellently prepared, verdant, and 
ripening, and the best and richest spots marked by hamlets 
and farm-houses, and this great and immeasurable plain, pre 
pared for man, like a new paradise, bounded far and near by 
mountains partly cultivated, partly overgrown with woods; 
one will then conceive the rapture with which I blessed my 
fate, that it had destined me, for some time, so beautiful a 
dwelling-place. 

Such a fresh glance into a new land in which we are to abide 
for a time, has still the peculiarity, both pleasant and fore 
boding, that the whole lies before us like an unwritten tablet. 
As yet no sorrows and joys which relate to ourselves are re 
corded upon it ; this cheerful, varied, animated plain is still 
mute for us ; the eye is only fixed on the objects so far as 
they are intrinsically important, and neither affection nor pas 
sion have especially to render prominent this or that spot. 
But a presentiment of the future already disquiets the young 
heart, arid an unsatisfied craving; secretly demands that which 

v 

is to come and may come, and which, at all events, whether for 
good or ill, will imperceptibly assume the character of the 
spot in which we find ourselves. 

Descended from the height, I still tarried awhile before the 
face of the venerable pile ; but what I could not quite clearly 
make out, either the first or the following time, was that I 
regarded this miracle as a monster, which must have terrified 
me, if it had not, at the same time, appeared to me compre 
hensible by its regularity, and even pleasing in its finish. 
Yet I by no means busied myself with meditating on this con 
tradiction, but suffered a monument so astonishing quietly to 
work upon me by its presence. 

I took small, but well-situated and pleasant lodgings, on 
the summer side of the Fish-market, a fine long street, where 



MEYEK. 307 

the everlasting motion came to the assistance of every unoc 
cupied moment. I then delivered my letters of introduction, 
and found among my patrons a merchant who, with his family, 
was devoted to those pious opinions sufficiently known to me, 
although, as far as regarded external worship, he had not 
.separated from the Church. He was a man of intelligence 
withal, and by no means hypocritical in his actions. The 
company of boarders which was recommended to me, and, 
indeed, I to it, was very agreeable and entertaining. A couple 
of old maids had long kept up this boarding-house with regu 
larity and good success ; there might have been about ten 
persons, older and younger. Of these latter, one named 
MEYEH, a native of Lindau, is most vividly present to me. 
From his form and face he might have been considered one of 
the handsomest of men, if, at the same time, he had not had 
something of the sloven in his whole appearance. In like 
manner his splendid natural talents were deformed by an in 
credible levity, and his excellent temper by an unbounded 
dissoluteness. He had an open, joyous face, more round than 
oval; the organs of the senses, the eyes, nose, mouth, and 
ears, could be called rich ; they showed a decided fulness, 
without being too large. The mouth was particularly charm 
ing, from the curling lips, and his whole physiognomy had the 
peculiar expression of a rake, from the circumstance that his 
eyebrows met across his nose, which, in a handsome face, 
always produces a pleasant expression of sensuality. By his 
jovialness, sincerity, and good-nature, he made himself be 
loved by all. His memory was incredible ; attention at the 
lectures cost him nothing ; he retained all that he heard, and 
was intellectual enough to take some interest in everything, 
and this the more easily, as he was studying medicine. All 
impressions remained lively with him, and his waggery in 
repeating the lectures and mimicking the professors often 
went so far, that when he had heard three different lectures 
in one morning, he would, at the dinner- table, interchange 
the professors with each other, paragraphwise, and often even 
more abruptly, which parti-coloured lecture frequently enter 
tained us, but often, too, became troublesome. 

The rest were more or less polite, steady, serious people. 
A pensioned knight of the order of St. Louis was one of 
these ; but the majority were students, all really good and 



308 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

well-disposed, only they were not allowed to go beyond their 
usual allowance of wine. That this should not be easily done 
was the care of our president, one Doctor SALZMANN. Already 
In the sixties and unmarried, he had attended this dinner- 
table for many years, and maintained its good order and 
respectability. He possessed a handsome property, kept him 
self close and neat in his exterior, even belonging to those 
who always go in shoes and stockings, and with their hat 
under their arm. To put on the hat, was with him an extra 
ordinary action. He commonly carried an umbrella, wisely 
reflecting that the finest summer- days often bring thunder 
storms and passing showers over the country. 

With this man I talked over my design of continuing to 
study jurisprudence at Strasburg, so as to be able to take my 
degree as soon as possible. Since he was exactly informed of 
everything, I asked him about the lectures I should have to 
hear, and what he generally thought of the matter. To this 
lie replied, that it was not in Strasburg as in the German uni 
versities, where they try to educate jurists in the large and 
learned sense of the term. Here, in conformity with the 
relation towards France, all was really directed to the practical, 
and managed in accordance with the opinions of the French, 
who readily stop at what is given. They tried to impart 
to every one certain general principles and preliminary know 
ledge, they compressed as much as possible, and communi 
cated only what was most necessary. Hereupon he made 
me acquainted with a man, in whom, as a Repetent ,* great con 
fidence was entertained ; which he very soon managed to gain 
from me also. By way of introduction, I began to speak with 
him on subjects of jurisprudence, and he wondered not a 
little at my swaggering ; for during my residence at Leipzig, 
I had gained more of an insight into the requisites for the 
law than I have hitherto taken occasion to state in my narra 
tive, though all I had acquired could only be reckoned as a 

* A Repetent is one of a class of persons to be found in the German, 
universities, and who assist students in their studies. They are some 
what analogous to the English Tutors, but not precisely ; for the latter 
render their aid before the recitation, while the Repetent repeats with the 
student, in private, the lectures he has previously heard from the pro 
fessor. Hence his name, which might be rendered Repeater, had we any 
corresponding class of men in England or America, which would justify 
an English word, American Note* 



TASTE FOE. MEDICAL STUDIES. 309 

general encyclopedical survey, and not as proper definite 
knowledge. University life, even if in the course of it we may 
not have to boast of our own proper industry, nevertheless 
affords endless advantages in every kind of cultivation, be 
cause w r e are always surrounded by men who either possess 
or are seeking science, so that, even if unconsciously, we are 
constantly drawing some nourishment from such an atmo 
sphere. 

My repetent, after he had had patience with my rambling 
discourse for some time, gave me at last to understand that I 
must first of all keep my immediate object in view, which was, 
to be examined, to take my degree, and then, perchance, to 
commence practice. " In order to stand the first," said he, 
" the subject is by no means investigated at large. It is in 
quired how and when a law arose, and what gave the internal 
or external occasion for it ; there is no inquiry as to how it 
has been altered by time and custom, or how far it has perhaps 
been perverted by false interpretation or the perverted usage of 
the courts. It is in such investigations that learned men quite 
peculiarly spend their lives ; but we inquire after that which 
exists at present, this we stamp firmly on our memory, that it 
may always be ready when we wish to employ it for the use 
and defence of our clients. Thus we qualify our young people 
for their future life, and the rest follows in proportion to their 
talents and activity." Hereupon he handed me his pamphlets, 
which were written in question and answer, and in which I 
could have stood a pretty good examination at once, for Hopp s 
smaller law-catechism was yet perfectly in my memory ; the 
rest I supplied with some diligence, and, against my will, 
qualified myself in the easiest manner as a candidate. 

But since in this way all my own activity in the study was 
cut off, for I had no sense for anything positive, but wished 
to have everything explained historically, if not intelligibly 
I found for my powers a wider field, which I employed in 
the most singular manner by devoting myself to a matter of 
interest which was accidently presented to me from without. 

Most of my fellow-boarders w r ere medical students. These, 
as is well known, are the only students who zealously converse 
about their science and profession even out of the hours of 
study. This lies in the nature of the case. The objects of their 
endeavours are the most obvious to the senses, and at the same 



310 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

time the highest, the most simple and the most complicated. 
Medicine employs the whole man, for it occupies itself with the 
whole man. All that the young man learns refers directly to an 
important, dangerous indeed, but yet in many respects lucrative 
practice. He therefore devotes himself passionately to what 
ever is to be known and to be done, partly because it is inter 
esting in itself, partly because it opens to him the joyous 
prospect of independence and wealth. 

At table then I heard nothing but medical conversations, just 
as formerly in the boarding-house of Hofrath Ludwig. In our 
walks and in our pleasure-parties likewise not much else was 
talked about ; for my fellow-boarders, like good fellows, had 
also become my companions at other times, and they were 
always joined on all sides by persons of like minds and like 
studies. The medical faculty in general shone above the others, 
with respect both to the celebrity of the professors and the 
number of the students, and I was the more easily borne along 
by the stream, as I had just so much knowlege of all these 
things that my desire for science could soon be increased and 
inflamed. At the commencement of the second half-year, 
therefore, I attended a course on chemistry by Spielmann, an 
other on anatomy by Lobstein, and proposed to be right indus 
trious, because by my singular preliminary or rather extra 
knowledge, I had already gained some respect and confidence 
in our society. 

Yet this dissipation and dismemberment of my studies was 
not enough, they were to be once more seriously disturbed ; 
for a remarkable political event set everything in motion, and 
procured us a tolerable succession of holidays. Marie An 
toinette, Archduchess of Austria and Queen of France, was to 
pass through Strasburg on her road to Paris. The solemnities 
by which the people are made to take notice that there is great 
ness in the world, were busily and abundantly prepared, and 
especially remarkable to me was the building which stood on 
an island in the Rhine between the two bridges, erected for 
her reception and for surrendering her into the hands of her 
husband s ambassadors. It was but slightly elevated above the 
ground, had in the centre a grand saloon, on each side smaller 
ones: then followed other chambers, which extended some 
what backwards. Enough, had it been more durably built, it 
might have answered very well as a pleasure-house for persons 



PKEPABATIONS FOE, RECEPTION OF MAHIE ANTOINETTE. 311 

of rank. But that which particularly interested me, and 
for which I did not grudge many a busel (a little silver coin 
then current) in order to procure a repeated entrance from the 
porter, was the embroidered tapestry with which they had 
lined the whole interior. Here, for the first time, I saw a 
specimen of those tapestries worked after Raffaelle s cartoons, 
and this sight was for me of very decided influence, as I be-* 
came acquainted with the true and the perfect on a large scale, 
though only in copies. I went and came, and came and went, 
and could not satiate myself with looking ; nay, a vain endea 
vour troubled me, because I would willingly have compre 
hended what interested me in so extraordinary a manner. I 
found these side-chambers highly delightful and refreshing, 
but the chief saloon so much the more shocking. This had 
been hung with many larger, more brilliant and richer hang 
ings, which were surrounded with crowded ornaments, worked 
after pictures by the modern French. 

Now I might perhaps have reconciled myself to this style 
also, as my feelings, like my judgment, did not readily reject 
anything entirely ; but the subject was excessively revolting 
to me. These pictures contained the history of Jason, Medea, 
and Creusa, and therefore an example of the most unhappy 
marriage. To the left of the throne was seen the bride strug 
gling with the most horrible death, surrounded by persons full 
of sympathizing woe ; to the right was the father, horrified at 
the murdered babes before his feet ; whilst the Fury, in her 
dragon-car, drove along into the air. And that the horrible 
and atrocious should not lack something absurd, the white tail 
of that magic bull nourished out on the right-hand from be 
hind the red velvet of the gold-embroidered back of the throne, 
while the fire-spitting beast himself, and the Jason, who was 
fighting with him, were completely covered by the sumptuous 
drapery. 

Here all the maxims which I had made my own. in Oeser s 
school were stirring within my bosom. It was without proper 
selection and judgment, to begin with, that Christ and the 
apostles were brought into the side-halls of a nuptial building, 
and doubtless the size of the chambers had guided the royal 
tapestry-keeper. This, however, I willingly forgave, because 
it had turned out so much to my advantage ; but a blunder like 
that in the grand saloon put me altogether out of my self-posses- 



312 TRUTH AND POETIIY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

sion, and with animation and vehemence T called on my com 
rades to witness such a crime against taste and feeling. 
"What!" cried I, without regarding the bystanders, "is it 
permitted so thoughtlessly to place before the eyes of a young 
queen, at her first setting foot in her dominions, the represen 
tation of the most horrible marriage that perhaps was ever 
consummated ! Is there then among the French architects, 
decorators, upholsterers, not a single man who understands 
that pictures represent something, that pictures work upon 
the mind and feelings, that they make impressions, that they 
excite forebodings ! It is just the same as if they had sent the 
most ghastly spectre to meet this beauteous and pleasure-lov 
ing lady at the very frontiers !" I know not what I said besides ; 
enough, my comrades tried to quiet me and to remove me out 
of the house, that there might be no offence. They then 
assured me that it was not everybody s concern to look for 
significance in pictures ; that to themselves, at least, nothing 
of the sort would have occurred, while the whole population of 
Strasburg and the vicinity which was to throng thither, would 
no more take such crotchets into their heads than the queen 
herself and her court. 

I yet remember well the beauteous and lofty mien, as cheer 
ful as it was imposing, of this youthful lady. Perfectly visible 
to us all in her glass carriage, she seemed to be jesting with 
her female attendants, in familiar conversation, about the 
throng that poured forth to meet her train. In the evening 
we roamed through the streets to look at the various illumi 
nated buildings, but especially the glowing spire of the minster, 
with which, both near and in the distance, we could not suffi 
ciently feast our eyes. 

The queen pursued her way ; the country people dispersed, 
and the city was soon quiet as ever. Before the queen s 
arrival, the very rational regulation had been made, that no 
deformed persons, no cripples nor disgusting invalids, should 
show themselves on her route. People joked about this, and 
I made a little French poem in which I compared the advent 
of Christ, who seemed to wander upon the world particularly 
on account of the sick and the lame, with the arrival of the 
queen, who scared these unfortunates away. My friends let 
it pass ; a Frenchman, on the contrary, who lived with us, 
criticised the language and metre very unmercifully, although, 



DREADFUL ACCIDENT AT PARIS. 313 

as it seemed, with too much foundation, and I do not remem 
ber that I ever made a French poem afterwards. 

Scarcely had the news of the queen s happy arrival rung 
from the capital, than it was followed by the horrible intelli 
gence that, owing to an oversight of the police during the 
festal fireworks, an infinite number of persons, with horses and 
carriages, had been destroyed in a street obstructed by build 
ing materials, and that the city, in the midst of the nuptial 
solemnities, had been plunged into mourning and sorrow. 
They attempted to conceal the extent of the misfortune, both 
from the young royal pair and from the world, by burying the 
dead in secret, so that many families were convinced only by 
the ceaseless absence of their members that they, too, had been 
swept off by this awful event. That, on this occasion, those 
ghastly figures in the grand saloon again came vividly before 
my mind, I need scarcely mention ; for every one knows how 
powerful certain moral impressions are, when they embody 
themselves, as it were, in those of the senses. 

This occurrence was, however, destined moreover to place 
my friends in anxiety and trouble by means of a prank in which 
I indulged. Among us young people w r ho had been at Leip 
zig, there had been maintained ever afterwards a certain itch 
for imposing on and in some way mystifying one another. 
With this wanton love of mischief I wrote to a friend in 
Frankfort (he was the one who had amplified my poem on 
the cake-baker Hendel, applied it to Medon, and caused its 
general circulation), a letter dated from Versailles, in which I 
informed him of my happy arrival there, my participation in 
the solemnities, and other things of the kind, but at the same 
time enjoined the strictest secrecy. I must here remark that, 
from the time of that trick which had caused us so much annoy 
ance, our little Leipzig society had accustomed itself to perse 
cute him from time to time with mystifications, and this espe 
cially as he was the drollest man in the world, and was never 
more amiable than when he was discovering the cheat into 
which he had deliberately been led. Shortly after I had written 
this letter, I went on a little journey and remained absent about 
a fortnight. Meanwhile the news of that disaster had reached 
Frankfort ; my friend believed me in Paris, and his affection 
led him to apprehend that I might have been involved in the 
calamity. He inquired of my parents and other persons to 



314 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

whom I was accustomed to write, whether any letters had ar 
rived, and as it was just at the time when my journey kept me 
from sending any, they were altogether wanting. He went 
about in the greatest uneasiness, and at last told the matter in 
confidence to our nearest friends, who were now in equal 
anxiety. Fortunately this conjecture did not reach my parents 
until a letter had arrived, announcing my return to Strasburg. 
My young friends were satisfied to learn that I was alive, but re 
mained firmly convinced that I had been at Paris in the interim. 
The affectionate intelligence of the solicitude they had felt on 
my account affected me so much that I vowed to leave off such 
tricks for ever, but, unfortunately, I have often since allowed 
myself to be guilty of something similar. Real life frequently 
loses its brilliancy to such a degree, that one is many a time 
forced to polish it up again with the varnish of fiction. 

This mighty stream of courtly magnificence had now flowed 
by, and had left in me no other longing than after those 
tapestries of Raffaelle, which I would willingly have gazed at, 
revered, nay, adored, every day and every hour. Fortunately, 
my passionate endeavours succeeded in interesting several per 
sons of consequence in them, so that they were taken down 
and packed up as late as possible. We now gave ourselves 
up again to our quiet, easy routine of the university and society, 
and in the latter the Actuary Salzmann, president of our table, 
continued to be the general pedagogue. His intelligence, 
complaisance, and dignity, which he always contrived to main 
tain amid all the jests, and often even in the little extravagances 
which he allowed us, made him beloved and respected by the 
whole company, and I could mention but few instances where 
he showed his serious displeasure, or interposed with authority 
in little quarrels and disputes. Yet among them all I was the 
one who most attached myself to him, and he was not less 
inclined to converse with me, as he found me more variously 
accomplished than the others, and not so one-sided in judg 
ment. I also followed his directions in external matters, so 
that he could, without hesitation, publicly acknowledge me as 
his companion and comrade : for although he only filled an 
office which seems to be of little influence, he administered it 
in a mariner which redounded to his highest honour. He was 
actuary to the Court of Wards (Pupillen- Collegium*), and there, 
indeed, like the perpetual secretary of an university, he had, 



STEASBUHG MANNERS. 315 

properly speaking, the management of affairs in his own hands. 
Now as he had conducted this business with the greatest exact 
ness for many years, there was no family, from the first to the 
last, which did not owe him its gratitude ; as indeed scarcely 
any one in the whole administration of government can earn 
more blessings or more curses than one who takes charge of 
the orphans, or, on the contrary, squanders or suffers to be 
squandered their property and goods. 

The Strasburgers are passionate walkers, and they have a 
good right to be so. Let one turn one s steps as one will, one 
finds pleasure-grounds, partly natural, partly adorned by art 
in ancient and modern times, all of them visited and enjoyed 
by a cheerful, merry little people. But what made the sight 
of a great number of pedestrians still more agreeable here than 
in other places, was the various costume of the fair sex. The 
middle class of city girls yet retained the hair twisted up and 
secured by a large pin ; as well as a certain close style of dress, 
in which anything like a train would have been unbecoming ; 
and the pleasant part of it was, that this costume did not differ 
violently according to the rank of the wearer ; for there were 
still some families of opulence and distinction, who would not 
permit their daughters to deviate from this costume. The rest 
followed the French fashion, and this party made some prose 
lytes every year. Salzmann had many acquaintances and an 
entrance everywhere ; a very pleasant circumstance for his 
companion, especially in summer, for good company and re 
freshment were found in all the public gardens far and near, 
and more than one invitation for this or that pleasant day was 
received. On one such occasion I found an opportunity to 
recommend myself very rapidly to a family which I was visit 
ing for only the second time. We were invited, and arrived 
at the appointed hour. The company was not large ; some 
played and some walked as usual. Afterwards, when they 
were to go to supper, I saw our hostess and her sister speaking 
to each other with animation, and as if in a peculiar embar 
rassment. I accosted them and said : " I have indeed no right, 
ladies, to force myself into your secrets ; but perhaps I may 
be able to give you good council, or even to serve you." Upon 
this they disclosed to me their painful dilemma : namely, that 
they had invited twelve persons to table, and that just at that 
moment a relation had returned from a journey, who now, as the 



316 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

thirteenth, would be a fatal memento mori, if not for himself, 
yet certainly for some of the guests. " The case is very easily 
mended," replied I ; " permit me to take my leave, and stipu 
late for indemnification." As they were persons of consequence 
and good-breeding, they would by no means allow this, but 
sent about in the neighbourhood to find a fourteenth. I 
suffered them to do so, yet when I saw the servant coming in at 
the garden-gate without having effected his errand, I stole 
away and spent my evening pleasantly under the old linden- 
trees of the Wanzenau. That this self-denial was richly repaid 
me was a very natural conseauence. 

*/ JL 

A certain kind of general society is not to be thought of 
without card-playing. Salzmaiin renewed the good instruc 
tions of Madame Bohme, and I was the more docile as I had 
really seen that by this little sacrifice, if it be one, one may 
procure oneself much pleasure, and even a greater freedom 
in society than one would otherwise enjoy. The old piquet, 
which had gone to sleep, was again looked out ; I learned 
whist; I made myself, according to the directions of my Mentor, 
a card-purse, which was to remain untouched under all cir 
cumstances ; and I now found opportunity to spend most of 
iny evenings with my friend in the best circles, where, for the 
most part, they wished me well, and pardoned many a little 
irregularity, to which, nevertheless, my friend, though kindly 
enough, used to call my attention. 

But that I might experience symbolically how much one, 
even in externals, has to adapt oneself to society, and direct 
oneself according to it, I was compelled to something which 
seemed to me the most disagreeable thing in the world. I had 
really very fine hair, but my Strasburg hair- dresser at once 
assured me that it was cut much too short behind, and that it 
would be impossible to make a frizure. of it in which I could 
show myself, since nothing but a few short curls in front were 
decreed lawful, and all the rest, from the crown, must be tied 
up in a queue or a hair-bag. Nothing was left but to put up 
with false hair till the natural growth was again restored 
according to the demands of the time. He promised me that 
nobody should ever remark this innocent cheat (against which 
I objected at first very earnestly), if I could resolve upon it 
immediately. He kept his word, and I was always looked upon 
as the young man who had the best and the best-dressed head 



JUNG- STILLING. 317 

of hair. But as I was obliged to remain thus propped up and 
powdered from early in the morning, and at the same time to 
take care not to betray my false ornament by heating myself 
or by violent motions, this restraint in fact contributed much to 
my behaving for a time more quietly and politely, and accus 
tomed me to going with my hat under my arm, and conse 
quently in shoes and stockings also ; however I did not venture 
to neglect wearing understockings of fine leather, as a defence 
against the Rhine gnats, which, on the fine summer evenings, 
generally spread themselves over the meadows and gardens. 
If now, under these circumstances, a violent bodily motion was 
denied me, our social conversations certainly became more and 
more animated and impassioned ; indeed they were the most 
interesting in which I had hitherto ever borne part. 

With my way of feeling and thinking, it cost me nothing 
to let every one pass for what he was, nay, for that which he 
wished to pass for, and thus the frankness of a fresh youthful 
heart, which manifested itself almost for the first time in its 
full bloom, made me many friends and adherents. Our com 
pany of boarders increased to about twenty persons, and as 
Salzmann kept up his accustomed order, everything con 
tinued in its old routine ; nay, the conversation was almost 
more decorous, as every one had to be on his guard before 
several. Among the new comers, was a man who particu 
larly interested me ; his name was JUNG, the same who after 
wards became known under the name of STILLING. In spite 
of an antiquated dress, his form had something delicate about 
it, with a certain sturdiness. A bag- wig did not disfigure 
his significant and pleasing countenance. His voice was 
mild, without being soft and weak ; it became even melodious 
and powerful as soon as his ardour was roused, which w r as 
very easily done. On learning to know him better, one 
found in him a sound common-sense, which rested on feeling, 
and therefore took its tone from the affections and passions, 
and from this very feeling sprang an enthusiasm for the good, 
the true, and the just, in the greatest possible purity. For 
the course of this man s life had been very simple, and yet 
crowded with events and with manifold activity. The element 
of his energy was an indestructible faith in God, and in an 
assistance flowing immediately from him, which evidently 
manifested itself in an uninterrupted providence, and in an 



318 TRUTH AND POETHY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

unfailing deliverance out of all troubles and from every evil. 
Jung had made many such experiences in his life, and they 
had often been repeated of late in Strasburg, so that, with 
the greatest cheerfulness, he led a life frugal indeed, but free 
from care ; and devoted himself most earnestly to his studies, 
although he could not reckon upon any certain subsistence from 
one quarter to another. In his youth, when on a fair way to 
become a charcoal burner, he took up the trade of a tailor, and 
after he had instructed himself, at the same time, in higher 
matters, his knowledge-loving mind drove him to the occupa 
tion of schoolmaster. This attempt failed, and he returned 
to his trade, from which, however, since every one felt for 
him confidence and affection, he was repeatedly called away, 
again to take a place as private tutor. But for his most in 
ternal and peculiar training he had to thank that wide-spread 
class of men who sought out their salvation on their own re- 
sponsibilty, and who, while they strove to edify themselves by 
reading the Scriptures and good books, and by mutual exhorta 
tion and confession, thereby attained a degree of cultivation 
which must excite surprise. For while the interest which always 
accompanied them and which maintained them in fellowship, 
rested on the simplest foundation of morality, well-wishing 
and well-doing, the deviations which could take place with 
men of such limited circumstances were of little importance, 
and hence their consciences, for the most part, remained clear, 
and their minds commonly cheerful ; so there arose no artifi 
cial, but a truly natural culture, which yet had this advantage 
over others, that it was suitable to all ages and ranks, and 
was generally social by its nature. For this reason, too, these 
persons were, in their own circle, truly eloquent, and capable 
of expressing themselves appropriately and pleasingly on all the 
tenderest and best concerns of the heart. Now the good Jung 
was in this very case. Among a few persons, who, if not 
exactly like-minded with himself, did not declare themselves 
averse from his mode of thought, he was found not only talka 
tive but eloquent; in particular, he related the history of 
his life in the most delightful manner, and knew how to 
make all the circumstances plainly and vividly present to his 
listeners. I persuaded him to write them down, and he 
promised he would do so. But because in his way of ex 
pressing himself he was like a somnambulist, whom one dare 



LEHSE. 319 

not call, lest he should fall from his elevation, or like a gentle 
stream, to which one dare oppose nothing, lest it should foam, 
so was he often forced to feel uncomfortable in a more nume 
rous company. His faith tolerated no doubt, and his convic 
tion no jest. And if in friendly communication he was inex 
haustible, everything came to a standstill with him when he 
suffered contradiction. I usually helped him tlirough on such 
occasions, for which he repaid me with honest affection. 
Since his mode of thought was nothing strange to me, but on 
the contrary I had already become accurately acquainted with 
it in my very best friends of both sexes, and since, moreover, 
it generally interested me with its naturalness and naivete, he 
found, himself on the very best terms with me. The bent of his 
mind was pleasing to me, and his wondrous faith in miracles, 
which was so useful to him, I left unmolested. Salzmann 
likewise behaved towards him with forbearance, I say with 
forbearance, for Salzmann, in conformity with his character, 
his natural disposition, his age and circumstances, could not 
but stand and continue on the side of the rational, or rather 
the common- sense Christians, whose religion properly rested 
on the rectitude of their characters, and a manly indepen 
dence, and who therefore did not like to meddle or have any 
thing to do with feelings which might easily have led them 
into gloom, or with mysticism, which might easily have led 
them into the dark. This class, too, was respectable and 
numerous ; all men of honour and capacity understood each 
other, and were of the like persuasion, as well as of the 
same mode of life. 

LERSE, likewise our fellow-boarder, also belonged to this 
number ; a perfectly upright young man, and, with limited 
gifts of fortune, frugal and exact. His manner of life and 
housekeeping was the closest I ever knew among students. 
He dressed himself the neatest of us all, and yet always ap 
peared in the same clothes ; but he managed his wardrobe 
with the greatest care, kept everything about him. clean, and 
required all things in ordinary life to go according to his 
example, He never happened to lean anywhere, or to prop 
his elbow on the table ; he never forgot to mark his table- 
napkin, and it always went ill with the maid when the chairs 
were not found perfectly clean. With all this, he had nothing 
stiff in his exterior. He spoke cordially, with precise and 



320 TRUTH AND POETBY ; FHOM MY OWST LIFE. 

dry liveliness, in which a light - ironical joke was very be 
coming. In figure, he was well-built, slender, and of fair 
height, his face was pock-pitted and homely, his little blue 
eyes cheerful and penetrating. As he had cause to tutor us 
in so many respects, we let him be our fencing-master besides ; 
for he drew a very fine rapier, and it seemed to give him 
sport to play off upon us, on this occasion, all the pedantry of 
this profession. Moreover, we really profited by him, and had 
to thank him for many sociable hours, which he induced us to 
spend in good exercise and practice. 

By all these peculiarities, Lerse completely qualified himself 
for the office of arbitrator and umpire in all the small and 
great quarrels which happened, though but rarely, in our 
circle, and which Salzmann could not hush up in his fatherly 
way. Without the external forms, which do so much mischief 
in universities, we represented a society bound together by 
circumstances and good-feeling, which others might occasion 
ally touch, but into which they could not intrude. Now, in 
his judgment of internal piques, Lerse always showed the 
greatest impartiality, and when the affair could no longer be 
settled by words and explanations, he knew how to con 
duct the desired satisfaction, in an honourable way, to a 
harmless issue. In this no man was more clever than he ; 
indeed, he often used to say, that since heaven had destined 
him. for a hero neither in war nor in love, he would be con 
tent, both in romances and fighting, with the part of second. 
Since he remained the same throughout, and might be re 
garded as a true model of a good and steady disposition, the 
conception of him stamped itself as deeply as amiably upon 
me ; and when I wrote Gotz von Berlichingen, I felt myself 
induced to set up a memorial of our friendship, and to give 
the gallant fellow, who knew how to subordinate himself in 
so dignified a manner, the name of Franz Lerse. 

While now, by his constant humorous dryness, he con 
tinued always to remind us of what one owed to oneself and 
to others, and how one ought to behave in order to live at 
peace with men as long as possible, and thus gain a certain 
position towards them, I had to fight, both inwardly and out 
wardly, with quite different circumstances and adversaries, 
being at strife with myself, with the cfbjects around me, and even 
with the elements. I found myself in a state of health which 




SUBJUGATION OE NATURAL ANTIPATHIES. 321 

farthered me sufficiently in all that I would and should under 
take ; only there was a certain irritability left behind, which 
did not always let me be in equilibrium. A loud sound was dis 
agreeable to me, diseased objects awakened in me loathing and 
horror. But I was especially troubled by a giddiness which 
came over me every time that I looked down from a height. 
All these infirmities I tried to remedy, and, indeed, as I wished 
to lose no time, in a somewhat violent way. In the evening, 
when they beat the tattoo, I went near the multitude of drums, 
the powerful rolling and beating of which might have made 
one s heart burst in one s bosom. All alone I ascended the 
highest pinnacle of the minster spire, and sat in what is called 
the neck, under the nob or crown, for a quarter of an hour, 
before I would venture to step out again into the open air, 
where, standing upon a platform scarce an ell square, without 
any particular holding, one sees the boundless prospect before, 
while the nearest objects and ornaments conceal the church, 
and everything upon and above which one stands. It is exactly 
as if one saw oneself carried up into the air in a balloon. Such 
troublesome and painful sensations I repeated until the im 
pression became quite indifferent to me, and I have since then 
derived great advantage from this training, in mountain travels 
and geological studies, and on great buildings, where I have 
vied with the carpenters in running over the bare beams and the 
cornices of the edifice, and even in Rome, where one must run 
similar risks to obtain a nearer view of important works of 
art. Anatomy, also, was of double value to me, as it taught 
me to tolerate the most repulsive sights, while I satisfied my 
thirst for knowledge. And thus I attended, also, the clinical 
course of the elder Doctor Ehrmann, as well as the lectures 
of his son on obstetrics, with the double view of becoming 
acquainted with all conditions, and of freeing myself from all 
apprehension as to repulsive things. And I have actually 
succeeded so far, that nothing of this kind could ever put me 
out of my self-possession. But I sought to steel myself not 
only against these impressions on the senses, but also against 
the infections of the imagination. The awful and shuddering 
impressions of the darkness in churchyards, solitary places, 
churches and chapels by night, and whatever may be connected 
with them, I contrived to render likewise indifferent ; and 
in this, also, I went so far that day and night, and every 

Y 



822 TR1JTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWK LIFE. 

locality, were quite the same to me ; so that even when, in 
later times, a desire came over me once more to feel in such 
scenes the pleasing shudder of youth, I could scarcely force 
this, in any degree, by the strangest and most fearful images 
which I called up. 

In my efforts to free myself from the pressure of the too- 
gloomy and powerful, which continued to rule within me, 
and seemed to me sometimes as strength, sometimes as weak 
ness, I was thoroughly assisted by that open, social, stirring 
manner of life, which attracted me more and more, to which 
I accustomed myself, and which I at last learned to enjoy 
with perfect freedom. It is not difficult to remark in the 
world, that man feels himself most freely and most perfectly 
rid of his own failings , when he represents to himself the 
faults of others, and expatiates upon them with complacent 
censoriousness. It is a tolerably pleasant sensation even to 
set ourselves above our equals by disapprobation and misre 
presentation, for which reason good society, whether it con 
sists of few or many, is most delighted with it. But nothing 
equals the comfortable self-complacency, when we erect 
ourselves into judges of our superiors, and of those who are 
set over us, of princes and statesmen, when we find public 
Institutions unfit and injudicious, only consider the possible 
and actual obstacles, and recognise neither the greatness of 
the invention, nor the co-operation which is to be expected 
from time and circumstances in every undertaking. 

Whoever remembers the condition of the French kingdom, 
and is accurately and circumstantially acquainted with it from 
later writings, will easily figure to himself how, at that time, 
In the Alsatian semi-France, people used to talk about the king 
and his ministers, about the court and court-favourites. 
These were new subjects for my love of instructing myself, 
and very welcome ones to my pertness and youthful conceit. 
I observed everything accurately, noted it down industriously, 
and I now see, from the little that is left, that such accounts, 
although only put together on the moment, out of fables and 
uncertain general rumours, always have a certain value in 
after-times, because they serve to confront and compare the 
secret made known at last with what was then already dis 
covered and public, and the judgments of contemporaries, 
true or false, with the convictions of posterity. 



EXPULSION OF THE JESUITS. 323 

Striking, and daily before the eyes of us street-loungers, 
was the project for beautifying the city ; the execution of 
which, according to draughts and plans, began in the strangest 
fashion to pass from sketches and plans into reality. Inten- 
dant Gayot had undertaken to new-model the angular and 
uneven lanes of Strasburg, and to lay the foundations of a 
respectable, handsome city, regulated by line and level. 
Upon this, Blondel, a Parisian architect, drew a plan, by 
which an hundred and forty householders gained in room, 
eighty lost, and the rest remained in their former condition. 
This plan, which was accepted, but was not to be put into 
execution at once, was now to approach completion in the 
course of time, and, meanwhile, the city oddly enough 
wavered between form and formlessness. If, for instance, a 
crooked side of a street was to be straightened, the first man 
who felt disposed to build moved forward to the appointed line ; 
perhaps, too, his next neighbour ; but perhaps, also, the third 
or fourth resident from him, by which projections the most 
awkward recesses were left, like front court-yards, before the 
houses in the background. They would not use force, yet with 
out compulsion they would never have got on ; on which account 
no man, when his house was once condemned, ventured to 
improve or replace anything that related to the street. All 
these strange accidental inconveniences gave to us rambling 
idlers the most welcome opportunity of practising our ridi 
cule, of making proposals, in the manner of Behrisch, for 
accelerating the completion, and of constantly doubting the 
possibility of it, although many a newly-erected handsome 
building should have brought us to other thoughts. How 
far that project was advanced by the length of time, I cannot 
say. 

Another subject on which the Protestant Strasburgers liked 
to converse was the expulsion of the Jesuits. These fathers, 
as soon as the city had fallen to the share of the French, had 
made their appearance and sought a domicilium. But they 
soon extended themselves and built a magnificent college, 
which bordered so closely on the minster that the back of the 
ehurch covered a third part of its front. It was to be a com 
plete quadrangle, and have a garden in the middle; three 
sides of it were finished. It is of stone, and solid, like all the 
buildings of these fathers. That the Protestants were pushed 



324 TKUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

hard, if not oppressed by them, lay in the plan of the society, 
which made it a duty to restore the old religion in its whole 
compass. Their fall, therefore, awakened the greatest satis 
faction in the opposite party, and people saw, not without 
pleasure, how they sold their wines, carried away their books, 
and the building was assigned to another, perhaps less active 
order. How glad are men when they get rid of an opponent, 
or only of a guardian ; and the herd does not reflect that where 
there is no dog, it is exposed to wolves. 

Now, since every city must have its tragedy, at which 
children and children s children shudder, so in Strasburg fre 
quent mention was made of the unfortunate Prsetor Kling- 
ling, who, after he had mounted the highest step of earthly 
felicity, ruled city and country with almost absolute power, 
and enjoyed all that wealth, rank, and influence could afford, 
had at last lost the favour of the court, and was dragged up 
to answer for all in which he had been indulged hitherto ; 
nay, was even thrown into prison, where, more than seventy 
years old, he died an ambiguous death. 

This and other tales, that knight of St. Louis, our fellow- 
boarder, knew how to tell with passion and animation, for 
which reason I was fond of accompanying him in his walks, 
unlike the others, who avoided such invitations, and left me 
alone with him. As with new acquaintances I generally 
suffered myself to go on for a long time without thinking 
much about them or the effect which they were exercising 
upon me, so I only remarked gradually that his stories and 
opinions rather unsettled and confused, than instructed and 
enlightened me. I never knew what to make of him, al 
though the riddle might easily have been solved. He be 
longed to the manv to whom life offers no results, and who 

!/ 

therefore, from first to last, exert themselves on individual 
objects. Unfortunately he had, with this, a decided desire, 
nay, evtn passion for meditating, without having any capacity 
for thinking ; and in such men a particular notion easily fixes 
itself fast, which may be regarded as a mental disease. To 
euch a fixed view he always came back again, and was thus 
in the long-run excessively tiresome. He used bitterly to 
complain of the decline of his memory, especially with regard 
to the latest events, and maintained by a logic of his own, that 
virtue springs from a good memory, and all vice ; on the 



THE KNIGHT OP ST. LOUIS. 325 

contrary, from forgetfulness. This doctrine he contrived to 
cany out with much acuteness ; as, indeed, everything can be 
maintained when one permits oneself to use words altogether 
vaguely, and to employ and apply them in a sense now wider, 
now narrower, now closer, now more remote. 

At first it was amusing to hear him ; nay, his persuasive 
ness even astonished us. We fancied we were standing before 
a rhetorical sophist, who for jest and practice knew how to give 
a fair appearance to the strangest things. Unfortunately this 
first impression blunted itself but too soon ; for at the end of 
every discourse, manage the thing as I would, the man came 
back again to the same theme. He was not to be held fast 
to older events, although they interested him, -although he 
had them present to his mind with their minutest circum 
stances. Indeed he was often, by a small circumstance, 
snatched out of the middle of a wild historical narrative, and 
thrust into his detestable favourite thought. 

One of our afternoon walks was particularly unfortunate in 
this respect; the account of it may stand here instead of 
similar cases, which might weary, if not vex the reader. 

On the way through the city we were met by an old female 
mendicant, who by her beggings and importunities disturbed 
him in his story. " Pack yourself off, old witch! said he, 
and walked by. She shouted after him the well-known 
retort, only somewhat changed, since she saw well that the 
unfriendly man was old himself, " If you did not wish to be 
old, you should have had yourself hanged in your youth! 
He turned round violently, and I feared a scene. " Hanged ! 
cried he, " have myself hanged ! No, that could not have 
been ; I was too honest a fellow for that ; but hang myself 
hang up my own self that is true that I should have done ; 
I should have turned a charge of powder against myself, that 
I might not live to see that I am not even worth that any 
more." The woman stood as if petrified ; but he continued, 
" You have said a great truth, witch-mother ! and as they have 
neither drowned nor burned you yet, you shall be paid for 
your proverb." He handed her a btisel, a coin not usually 
given to a beggar. 

We had crossed over the first Rhine-bridge, and were going 
to the inn where we meant to stop, and I was trying to lead 
him back to our previous conversation, when, unexpectedly, 



326 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

a very pretty girl met us on the pleasant foot-path, remained 
standing before us, bowed prettily and cried : " Eh, eh ! 
captain, where are you going?" and whatever else is usually 
said on such an occasion. " Mademoiselle," replied he, some 
what embarrassed, " I know not " " How?" said she, 

with graceful astonishment, " do you forget your friends so 
soon?" The word " forget" fretted him; he shook his head 
and replied, peevishly enough, " Truly, mademoiselle, I did 

not know ! She now retorted with some humour, yet 

very temperately : " Take care, captain, I may mistake you 
another time ! And so she hurried past, taking huge strides, 
without looking round. At once my fellow-traveller struck 
his forehead with both his fists : "0 what an ass I am!" ex 
claimed he, " what an old ass I am ! Now, you see whether I 
am right or not." And then, in a very violent manner, he 
went on with his usual sayings and opinions, in which this case 
still more confirmed him. I cannot and would not repeat what 
a philippic discourse he held against himself. At last he turned 
to me and said : " I call you to witness ! You remember that 
small- ware woman at the corner, who is neither young nor 
pretty ? I salute her every time we pass, and often exchange 
a couple of friendly words with her ; and yet it is thirty years 
ago since she was gracious to me. But now I swear it is not 
four weeks since this young lady showed herself more complai 
sant to me than was reasonable, and yet I will not recognise 
her, but insult her in return for her favours ! Do I not always 
say that ingratitude is the greatest of vices, and no man would 
be ungrateful if he were not forgetful! 

We went into the inn, and nothing fcut the tippling, swarm 
ing crowd in the ante -rooms stopped the invectives which he 
rattled off against himself and his contemporaries. He was 
silent, and I hoped pacified, when we stepped into an upper 
chamber, where we found a young man pacing up and down 
alone, whom the captain saluted by name. I was pleased to 
become acquainted with him ; for the old fellow had said 
much good of him to me, and had told me that this young man, 
being employed in the war-bureau, had often disinterestedly 
done him very good service when the pensions were stopped. 
I was glad that the conversation took a general turn, and while 
we were carrying it on we drank a bottle of wine. But here, 
unluckily, another infirmity which my knight had in common 



THE KKIGHT OF ST. LOUIS. 327 

with obstinate men, developed itself. For as, on the whole, 
he could not get rid of that fixed notion, so did he stick fast 
to a disagreeable impression of the moment, and suffer his 
feelings to run on without moderation. His last vexation, 
about himself had not yet died away, and now was added 
something new, although of quite a different kind. He had 
not long cast his eyes here and there before he noticed on the 
table a double portion of coffee and two cups, and might be 
sides, being a man of gallantry, have traced some other indi 
cation that the young man had not been so solitary all the 
time. And scarcely had the conjecture arisen in his mind, 
and ripened into a probability, that the pretty girl had been, 
paying a visit here, than the most outrageous jealousy added 
itself to that first vexation, so as completely to perplex him. 

Now before I could suspect anything, for I had hitherto 
been conversing quite harmlessly with the young man, the 
captain, in an unpleasant tone, which I well knew, began to 
be satirical about the pair of cups, and about this and that. 
The young man, surprised, tried to turn it off pleasantly and 
sensibly, as is the custom among men of good-breeding ; but 
the old fellow continued to be unmercifully rude, so that there 
was nothing left for the other to do but to seize his hat and cane, 
and at his departure to leave behind him a pretty unequivocal 
challenge. The fury of the captain now burst out the more 
vehemently, as he had in the interim drunk another bottle of 
wine almost by himself. He struck the table with his fist, 
and cried more than once : " I strike him dead ! ; It was not, 
however, meant quite so badly as it sounded, for he often used 
this phrase when any one opposed or otherwise displeased him. 
Just as unexpectedly the business grew worse on our return : 
for I had the want of foresight to represent to him his ingrati 
tude towards the young man, and to remind him how strongly 
he had praised to me the ready obligingness of this official 
person. No ! such rage of a man against himself I never saw 
again ; it was the most passionate conclusion to that beginning 
to which the pretty girl had given occasion. Here I saw sorrow 
and repentance carried into caricature, as all passion supplies 
the place of genius, and is really full of genius. He then went 
over all the incidents of our afternoon ramble again, employed 
them rhetorically for his own self-reproach, brought up the 
old witch at last before him once more, and perplexed himself 



328 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

to such a degree, that I could not help fearing he would throw 
himself into the Rhine. Could I have been sure of fishing him 
out again quickly, like Mentor his Telemachus, he might have 
made the leap, and I should have brought him home cooled 
down for this occasion. 

I immediatelv confided the affair to Lerse, and we went the 

tt 

next morning to the young man, whom my friend in his dry 
way set laughing. We agreed to bring about an accidental 
meeting, where a reconciliation should take place of itself. 
The drollest thing about it was, that this time the captain too 
had slept off his rudeness, and found himself ready to apologize 
to the young man, to whom petty quarrels were of some con 
sequence. All was arranged in one morning, and, as the affair 
had not been kept quite secret, I did not escape the jokes of 
my Mends, who might have foretold me, from their own expe 
rience, how troublesome the friendship of the captain could 
become upon occasion. 

But now, while I am thinking what should be imparted next, 
there comes again into my thoughts, by a strange play of me 
mory, that reverend minster-building, to which in those days 
I devoted particular attention, and which, in general, con 
stantly presents itself to the eye both in the city and in the 
country. 

The more I considered the facade, the more was that first 
impression strengthened and developed, that here the sublime 
has entered into alliance with the pleasing. If the vast, when 
it appears as a mass before us, is not to terrify ; if it is not to 
confuse, when we seek to investigate its details, it must enter 
into an unnatural, apparently impossible connexion, it must 
associate to itself the pleasing. But now, since it will be im 
possible for us to speak of the impression of the minster except 
by considering both these incompatible qualities as united, so 
do we already see, from this, in what high value we must hold 
this ancient monument, and we begin in earnest to describe 
how such contradictory elements could peaceably interpene 
trate and unite themselves. 

First of all, without thinking of the towers, we devote our con 
siderations to the facade alone, which powerfully strikes the eye as 
an upright, oblong parallelogram. If we approach it at twilight, 
in the moonshine, on a starlight night, when the parts appear 
more or less indistinct and at last disappear, we see only a colos- 



STRASBUEG MINSTER. 329 

sal wall, the height of which bears an advantageous proportion 
to the breadth. If we gaze on it by day, and by the power of the 
mind abstract from the details, we recognise the front of a 
building which not only incloses the space within, but also 
covers much in its vicinity. The openings of this monstrous 
surface point to internal necessities, and according to these we 
can at once divide it into nine compartments. The great 
middle door, which opens into the nave of the church, first 
meets the eye. On both sides of it lie two smaller ones, be 
longing to the cross-ways. Over the chief door our glance falls 
upon the wheel-shaped window, which is to spread an awe- 
inspiring light within the church and its vaulted arches. At 
its sides appear two large, perpendicular, oblong openings, 
which form a striking contrast with the middle one, and indi 
cate that they belong to the base of the rising towers. In the 
third story are three openings in a row, which are designed for 
belfries and other church necessities. Above them one sees 
the whole horizontally closed by the balustrade of the gallery, 
instead of a cornice. These nine spaces described, are sup 
ported, enclosed, and separated into three great perpendicular 
divisions by four pillars rising up from the ground. 

Now as one cannot deny to the whole mass a fine proportion 
of height to breadth, so also in the details it maintains a some 
what uniform lightness by means of these pillars and the nar 
row compartments between them. 

But if we keep to our abstraction, and imagine to ourselves 
this immense wall without ornaments, with firm buttresses, 
with the necessary openings in it, but only so far as necessity 
requires them, we even then must allow that these chief divi 
sions are in good proportion : thus the whole will appear solemn 
and noble indeed, but always heavily unpleasant, and, being 
without ornament, unartistical. For a work of art, the whole 
of which is conceived in great, simple, harmonious parts, makes 
indeed a noble and dignified impression, but the peculiar en 
joyment which the pleasing produces can only find place in 
the consonance of all developed details. 

And it is precisely here that the building which we are ex 
amining satisfies us in the highest degree : for we see all the 
ornaments fully suited to every part which they adorn ; they 
are subordinate to it, they seem to have grown out of it. Such 
a manifoldness always gives great pleasure, since it flows of its 



330 TBUTH AND POETRY; PKOM MY OWN LIFE. 

own accord from the suitable, and therefore at the same time 
awakens the feeling of unity. It is only in such cases that the 
execution is prized as the summit of art. 

By such means, now, was a solid piece of masonry, an im 
penetrable wall, which had moreover to announce itself as the 
base of two heaven-high towers, made to appear to the eye as 
if resting on itself, consisting in itself, but at the same time 
light and adorned, and, though pierced through in a thousand 
places, to give the idea of indestructible firmness. 

This riddle is solved in the happiest manner. The openings 
in the wall, its solid parts, the pillars, everything has its pecu 
liar character, which proceeds from its particular destination ; 
this communicates itself by degrees to the subdivisions ; hence 
everything is adorned in proportionate taste, the great as well 
as the small is in the right place, and can be easily compre 
hended, and thus the pleasing presents itself in the vast. I 
would refer only to the doors sinking in perspective into the 
thickness of the wall, and adorned without end in their columns 
and pointed arches ; to the window with its rose springing out 
of the round form, to the outline of its frame -work, as well as 
to the slender reedlike pillars of the perpendicular compart 
ments. Let one represent to himself the pillars retreating 
step by step, accompanied by little, slender, light-pillared., 
pointed structures, likewise striving upwards, and furnished 
with canopies to shelter the images of the saints, and how at 
last every rib, every boss, seerns like a flower-head and row of 
leaves, or some other natural object transformed into stone. 
One may compare, if not the building itself, yet representations 
of the whole and of its parts, for the purpose of reviewing and 
giving life to what I have said. It may seem exaggerated to 
many, for I myself, though transported into love for this work 
at first sight, required a long time to make myself intimately 
acquainted with its value. 

Having grown up among those who found fault with Gothic 
architecture, I cherished my aversion from the abundantly 
overloaded, complicated ornaments which, by their capricious- 
ness, made a religious, gloomy character highly adverse. I 
strengthened myself in this repugnance, since I had only met 
with spiritless works of this kind, in which one could perceive 
neither good proportions nor a pure consistency. But here I 
thought I saw a new revelation of it, since what was objec- 



STRASBUEG MINSTER. 331 

tionable by no means appeared, but the contrary opinion rather 
forced itself upon my mind. 

But the longer I looked and considered, I all the while 
thought I discovered yet greater merits beyond that which I 
have already mentioned. The right proportion of the larger 
divisions, the ornamental, as judicious as rich, even to the 
minutest, were found out ; but now I recognised the connexion 
of these manifold ornaments amongst each other, the transition 
from one leading part to another, the enclosing of details, 
homogeneous indeed, but yet greatly varying in form, from 
the saint to the monster, from the leaf to the dental. The 
more I investigated, the more I was astonished ; the more I 
amused and wearied myself with measuring and drawing, so 
much the more did my attachment increase, so that I spent 
much time, partly in studying what actually existed, partly in 
restoring, in my mind and on paper, what was wanting and 
unfinished, especially in the towers. 

Since now I found that this building had been based on 
old German ground, and grown thus far in genuine German 
times, and that the name of the master, on his modest grave 
stone, was likewise of native sound and origin, I ventured, 
being incited by the worth of this work of art, to change the 
hitherto decried appellation of " Gothic architecture," and 
to claim it for our nation as " German architecture ;" nor 
did I fail to bring my patriotic views to light, first orally, and 
afterwards in a little treatise, dedicated to D. M. Erwini a 
Steinbach. 

If my biographical narrative should come down to the epoch 
when the said sheet appeared in print, which Herder after 
wards inserted in his pamphlet : Von Deutscher Art und Kimst, 
(Of German Manner and Art^) much more will be said on this 
weighty subject. But before I turn myself away from it this 
time, I will take the opportunity to vindicate the motto pre 
fixed to the present volume, with those who may have enter 
tained some doubt about it. I know indeed very well, that in 
opposition to this honest, hopeful old German saying : " What 
ever one wishes in youth, one has abundance in old age ! " many 
would quote contrary experience,, and many trifling comments 
might be made ; but much also is to be said in its favour, and 
I will explain my own thoughts on the matter. 

Our wishes are presentiments of the capabilities which lie 



332 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

within us, and harbingers of that which we shall be in a con 
dition to perform. Whatever we are able and would like to do, 
presents itself to our imagination, as without us and in the 
future ; we feel a longing after that which we already possess 
in secret. Thus a passionate anticipating grasp changes the 
truly possible into a dreamed reality. Now if such a bias lies 
decidedly in our nature, then, with every step of our develop 
ment will a part of the first wish be fulfilled under favourable 
circumstances in the direct wav, under unfavourable in the 

*/ * 

circuitous way, from which we always come back again to the 
other. Thus we see men by perseverance attain to earthly 
wealth ; they surround themselves with riches, splendour, and 
external honour. Others strive yet more certainly after intel 
lectual advantages, acquire for themselves a clear survey of 
things, a peacefulness of mind, and a certainty for the present 
and the future. 

But now there is a third direction, which is compounded of 
both, and the issue of which must be the most surely success 
ful. When, namely, the youth of a man falls into a pregnant 
time, when production overweighs destruction, and a pre 
sentiment is early awakened within him as to what such an 
epoch demands and promises, he will then, being forced by 
outward inducements into an active interest, take hold now 
here, now there, and the wish to be active on many sides will 
be lively within him. But so many accidental hindrances are 
associated with human limitation, that here a thing, once 
begun, remains unfinished, there that which is already grasped 
falls out of the hand, and one wish after another is dissipated. 
But had these wishes sprung out of a pure heart, and in con 
formity with the necessities of the times, one might composedly 
let them lie and fall right and left, and be assured that these 
must not only be found out and picked up again, but that also 
many kindred things, which one has never touched and never 
even thought of, will come to light. If now, during our own 
lifetime, we see that performed by others, to which we our 
selves felt an earlier call, but had been obliged to give it up, 
with much besides ; then the beautiful feeling enters the mind, 
that only mankind together is the true man, and that the indi 
vidual can only be joyous and happy when he has the courage 
to feel himself in the whole. 

This contemplation is here in the right place ; for when I 



STUDY OF GERMAN AKCHITECTTTKE. 333 

reflect on the affection which drew me to these antique edifices, 
when I reckon up the time which I devoted to the Strasburg 
minster alone, the attention with which I afterwards examined 
the cathedral at Cologne, and that at Freyburg, and more and 
more felt the value of these buildings, I could even blame 
myself for having afterwards lost sight of them altogether, 
nay, for having left them completely in the background, being 
attracted by a more developed art. But when I now, in the 
latest times, see attention again turned to those objects, when 
I see affection and even passion for them appearing and flou 
rishing, when I see able young persons seized with this passion, 
recklessly devoting powers, time, care, and property, to these 
memorials of a past world, then am I reminded with pleasure 
that what I formerly would and wished had a value. With 
satisfaction I see that they not only know how to prize what 
was done by our forefathers, but that from existing unfinished 
beginnings they try to represent, in pictures at least, the 
original design, so as thus to make us acquainted with the 
thought, which is ever the beginning and end of all under 
takings ; and that they strive with considerate zeal to clear 
up and vivify what seems to be a confused past. Here I 
especially applaud the gallant Sulpiz Boisseree, who is inde- 
fatigably employed in a magnificent series of copper-plates to 
exhibit the cathedral of Cologne as the model of those vast 
conceptions, the spirit of which, like that of Babel, strove up to 
heaven, and which were so out of proportion to earthly means, 
that they were necessarily stopped fast in their execution. If 
we have been hitherto astonished that such buildings proceeded 
only so far, we shall learn with the greatest wonder what was 
really designed to be done. 

May the literary- artistical undertakings of this kind be duly 
patronized by all who have power, wealth, and influence, that 
the great and gigantic views of our forefathers may be pre 
sented to our contemplation, and that we may be able to form 
a conception of what they dared to desire. The insight result 
ing from this will not remain fruitless, and the judgment will, 
for once at least, be in a condition to exercise itself on these 
works with justice. Nay, this will be done most thoroughly ; , 
if our active young friend, besides the monograph devoted to 
the cathedral of Cologne, follows out in detail the history of 
our mediaeval architecture. When whatever is to be known 



334 THUTH AND POETKY ; FBOM MY OWN LIFE. 

about the practical exercise of this art is further brought to 
light, when the art is represented in all its fundamental features 
by a comparison with the Greece-Roman and the oriental 
Egyptian, little can remain to be done in this department. 
And I, when the results of such patriotic labours lie before 
the world, as they are now known in friendly private commu 
nications, shall be able, with true content, to repeat that motto 
in its best sense : " Whatever one wishes in youth, in old age 
one has abundance." 

But if, in operations like these, which belong to centuries, 
one can trust oneself to time, and wait for opportunity, there 
are, on the contrary, other things which in youth must be 
enjoyed at once, fresh, like ripe fruits. Let me be permitted, 
with this sudden turn, to mention dancing, of which the ear 
is reminded, as the eye is of the minster, every day and every 
hour in Strasburg and all Alsace. From early youth my lather 
himself had given my sister and me instruction in dancing, 
a task which must have comported strangely enough with so 
stern a man ; but he did not suffer his composure to be put 
out by it ; he drilled us in the positions and steps in a manner 
the most precise, and when he had brought us far enough to 
dance a minuet, he played for us something easily intelligible 
in three-four time, on a flute-douce, and we moved to it as 
well as we could. On the French theatre, likewise, I had 
seen from my youth upwards, if not ballets, yet pas seuls and 
pas de deux, and had noticed in them various strange motions 
of the feet, and all sorts of springs. When now we had enough 
of the minuet, I begged my father for other dancing music, 
of which our music-books, in their jigs and nmrkies,* offered 
us a rich supply; and I immediately found out, of myself, 
the steps and other motions for them, the time being quite 
suitable to my limbs, and, as it were, born with them. This 
pleased my father to a certain degree ; indeed, he often, by 
way of joke for himself and us, let the " monkies " dance in 
this way. After my misfortune with Gretchen, and during 
the whole of my residence in Leipzig, I did not make my 
appearance again on the floor ; on the contrary, I still remem 
ber that when, at a ball, they forced me into a minuet, both 
measure and motion seemed to have abandoned my limbs, and 

* A " murki " is defined as an old species of short composition for the 
hftrpsichord, with a lively murmuring accompaniment in the bass. Trans. 



THE DANCING-MASTER S DATJGHTEKS. 335 

I could no more remember either the steps or the figures, so 
that I should have been put to disgrace and shame if the 
greater part of the spectators had not maintained that my 
awkward behaviour was pure obstinacy, assumed with the 
view of depriving the ladies of all desire to invite me and 
draw me into their circle against my will. 

During my residence in Frankfort, I was quite cut off from 
such pleasures ; but in Strasburg, with other enjoyments of 
life, there soon arose in my limbs the faculty of keeping time. 
On Sundays and w r eek-days, one sauntered by no pleasure- 
ground without finding there a joyous crowd assembled for 
the dance, and for the most part revolving in the circle. 
Moreover, there were private balls in the country-houses, and 
people were already talking of the brilliant masquerades of 
the coming winter. Here, indeed, I should have been out of 
my place, and useless to the company ; when a friend, who 
waltzed very well, advised me to practise myself first in par 
ties of a lower rank, so that afterwards I might be worth 
something in the highest. He took me to a dancing-master, 
who was well known for his skill; this man promised me 
that, when I had in some degree repeated the first elements, 
and made myself master of them, he would then lead me 
further. He was one of the dry, ready French characters, 
and received me in a friendly manner. I paid him a month 
in advance, and received twelve tickets, for which he agreed 
to give me certain hours instruction. The man was strict 
and precise, but not pedantic ; and as I already had some 
previous practice, I soon gave him satisfaction and received 
his commendation. 

One circumstance, however, greatly facilitated the instruc 
tion of this teacher ; he had two daughters, both pretty, and 
both yet under twenty. Having been instructed in this art 
from their youth upwards, they showed themselves very skil 
ful, and might have been able, as partners, soon to help 
even the most clumsy scholars into some cultivation. They 
were both very polite, spoke nothing but French, and I, on 
my part, did my best, that I might not appear awkward or 
ridiculous before them. I had the good fortune that they like 
wise praised me, and were always willing to dance a minuet 
to their father s little violin, and, what indeed was more diffi 
cult for them, to initiate me, by degrees, into waltzing and 



336 TRUTH AND POETRY; PROM MY OWN LIFE. 

whirling. Their father did not seem to have many customers, 
and they led a lonely life. For this reason they often asked 
me to remain with them after my hour, and to chat away the 
time a little ; which I the more willingly did, as the younger 
one pleased me well, and generally they both altogether be 
haved very becomingly. I often read aloud something from 
a novel, and they did the same. The elder, who was as hand 
some, perhaps even handsomer, than the second, but who 
did not correspond with my taste so well as the latter, always 
conducted herself towards me more obligingly, and more 
kindly in every respect. She was always at hand during the 
hour, and often protracted it; hence I sometimes thought 
myself bound to offer back a couple of tickets to her father, 
which, however, he did not accept. The younger one, on 
the contrary, although she did nothing unfriendly towards 
me, was yet rather reserved, and waited till she was called by 
her father before she relieved the elder. 

The cause of this became manifest to me one evening. For 
when, after the dance was done, I was about to go into the 
sitting-room with the elder, she held me back and said, " Let 
us remain here a little longer ; for I will confess to you that 
my sister has with her a woman who tells fortunes from cards, 
and who is to reveal to her how matters stand with an absent 
lover, on whom her whole heart hangs, and upon whom she 
lias placed all her hope. Mine is free," she continued, " and 
I must accustom myself to see it despised." I thereupon said 
sundry pretty things to her, replying that she could at once 
convince herself on that point by consulting the wise woman 
likewise ; that I would do so myself, for I had long wished 
to learn something of the kind, but lacked faith. She blamed 
me for this, and assured me that nothing in the world was 
surer than the responses of this oracle, only it must be con 
sulted, not out of sport and mischief, but solely in real affairs. 
However, I at last compelled her to go with me into that 
room, as soon as she had ascertained that the consultation was 
over. We found her sister in a very cheerful humour, and 
even towards me she was kinder than usual, sportive, and 
almost witty ; for since she seemed to be secure of an absent 
friend, she may have thought it no treachery to be a little 
gracious with a present friend of her sister s, which she 
thought me to be. The old woman was now flattered, and 






THE POBTTJNE-TELLER. 337 

good payment was promised her, if she would tell the truth 
to the elder sister and to me. With the usual preparations 
and ceremonies she began her business, in order to tell the 
fair one s fortune first. She carefully considered the situation 
of the cards, but seemed to hesitate, and would not speak out 
what she had to say. " I see now," said the younger, who 
was already better acquainted with the interpretation of such 
a magic tablet, " you hesitate, and do not wish to disclose 
anything disagreeable to my sister ; but that is a cursed card ! 
The elder one turned pale, but composed herself, and said, 
"Only speak out; it will not cost one s head! The old 
woman, after a deep sigh, showed her that she was in love, 
that she was not beloved, that another person stood in the 
way, and other things of like import. We saw the good 
girl s embarrassment. The old woman thought somewhat to 
improve the affair by giving hopes of letters and money. 
" Letters," said the lovely child, " I do not expect, and money 
I do not desire. If it is true, as you say, that I love. I de 
serve a heart that loves me in return." " Let us see if it 
will not be better," replied the old woman, as she shuffled the 
cards and laid them out a second time ; but before the eyes of 
all of us, it had only become still worse. The fair one stood 
not only more lonely, but surrounded with many sorrows ; her 
lover had moved somewhat farther, and the intervening figures 
nearer. The old woman wished to try it the third time, in 
hopes of a better prospect ; but the beautiful girl could restrain 
herself no longer, she broke out into uncontrollable weeping, 
her lovely bosom heaved violently, she turned round, and 
rushed out of the room. I knew not what I should do. In 
clination kept me with the one present ; compassion drove me 
to the other ; my situation, was painful enough. " Comfort 
Lucinda," said the younger; "go after her." I hesitated; 
how could I comfort her without at least assuring her of some 
sort of affection, and could I do that at such a moment in 
a cool, moderate manner? "Let us go together," said I to 
Emilia. " I know not whether my presence will do her good," 
replied she. Yet we went, but found the door bolted. Lu 
cinda made no answer ; we might knock, shout, entreat, as 
w r e would. "We must let her have her own way," said 
Emilia ; " she will not have it otherwise now ! " And, in 
deed, when I called to my mind her manner from our very 

z 



338 TRtJTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

first acquaintance, she always had something violent and un 
equal about her, and chiefly showed her affection for me by 
not behaving to me with rudeness. What should I do? 
I paid the old woman richly for the mischief she had caused, 
and was about to go, when Emilia said, " I stipulate that the 
cards shall now be cut for you too." The old woman was 
ready. " Do not let me be present," cried I, and hastened 
down stairs. 

The next day I had not courage to go there. The third 
day, early in the morning, Emilia sent me word by a boy who 
had already brought me many a message from the sisters, and 
had carried back flowers and fruits to them in return, that I 
should not fail that day. I came at the usual hour, and 
found the father alone, who, in many respects, improved my 
paces and steps, my goings and comings, my bearing and 
behaviour, and, moreover, seemed to be satisfied with me. 
The younger daughter came in towards the end of the hour, 
and danced with me a very graceful minuet, in which her 
movements were extraordinarily pleasing, and her father de 
clared that he had rarely seen a prettier and more nimble 
pair upon his floor. After the lesson, I went as usual into 
the sitting-room ; the father left us alone ; I missed Lucinda. 
" She is in bed," said Emilia, " and I am glad of it ; do not 
be concerned about it. Her mental illness is first alleviated 
when she fancies herself bodily sick ; she does not like to die, 
and therefore she then does what we wish. We have certain 
family medicines which she takes, and reposes ; and thus, by 
degrees, the swelling waves subside. She is, indeed, too good 
and amiable in such an imaginary sickness, and as she is in 
reality very well, and is only attacked by passion, she ima 
gines various kinds of romantic deaths, with which she 
frightens herself in a pleasant manner, like children when we 
tell them ghost- stories. Thus, yesterday evening, she an 
nounced to me with great vehemence, that this time she should 
certainly die, and that only when she was really near death, 
they should bring again before her the ungrateful false friend, 
who had at first acted so handsomely to her, and now treated 
her so ill ; she would reproach him bitterly, and then give up 
the ghost." " I know not that I am guilty," exclaimed I, "of 
having expressed any sort of affection for her. I know some 
body who can best bear me witness in this respect." Emilia 



SCENE "WITH THE TWO SISTERS. 339 

smiled and rejoined, " I understand you ; and if we are not 
discreet and determined, we shall all find ourselves in a bad 
plight together. What will you say if I entreat you not to 
continue your lessons? You have, I believe, four tickets 
yet of the last month, and my father has already declared 
that he finds it inexcusable to take your money any longer, 
unless you wish to devote yourself to the art of dancing in a 
more serious manner ; what is required by a young man of 
the world you possess already." " And do you, Emilia, give 
me this advice, to avoid your house? replied I. "Yes, I 
do," said she, " but not of myself. Only listen. When you 
hastened away, the day before yesterday, I had the cards cut 
for you, and the same response was repeated thrice, and each 
time more emphatically. You were surrounded by everything 
good and pleasing, by friends and great lords, and there was 
no lack of money. The ladies kept themselves at some dis 
tance. My poor sister in particular stood always the farthest 
off; one other advanced constantly nearer to you, but never 
came up to your side, for a third person, of the male sex, 
always came between. I will confess to you that I thought that 
I myself was meant by the second lady, and after this confes 
sion you Will best comprehend my well-meant counsel. To 
an absent friend I have promised my heart and my hand, and, 
until now, I loved him above all ; yet it might be possible for 
your presence to become more important to me than hitherto, 
and what kind of a situation would you have between two 
sisters, one of whom you had made unhappy by your affec 
tion, and the other by your coldness, and all this ado about 
nothing and only for a short time ? For if we had not known 
already who you are and what are your expectations, the 
cards would have placed it before my eyes in the clearest 
manner. Fare you well!" said she, and gave me her hand. 
I hesitated. " Now," said she, leading me towards the door, 
" that it may really be the last time that we shall speak to 
each other, take what I would otherwise have denied vou." 

i/ 

She fell upon my neck, and kissed me most tenderly. I 
embraced her, and pressed her to my bosom. 

At this moment the side-door flew open, and her sister, in 
a light but becoming night-dress, sprang out and cried, " You 
shall not be the only one to take leave of him! Emilia 
let me go, and Lucinda seized me, clasped herself fast to my 

z 2 



340 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

heart, pressed her black locks upon my cheeks, and remained 
in this position for some time. And thus I found myself in 
the dilemma between two sisters which Emilia had prophe 
sied to me a moment before. Lucinda let me loose, and 
looked earnestly into my face. I would have taken her hand 
and said something friendly to her, but she turned herself 
away, walked with violent steps up and down the room for 
some time, and then threw herself into a corner of the sofa. 
Emilia went to her, but was immediately repulsed, and here 
began a scene which is yet painful to me in the recollection, 
and which, although really it had nothing theatrical about it, 
but was quite suitable to a lively young Frenchwoman, could 
only be properly repeated in the theatre by a good and 
feeling actress. 

Lucinda overwhelmed her sister with a thousand reproaches. 
" This is not the first heart," she cried, " that was inclining 
itself to me, and that you have turned away. Was it not just so 
with him who is absent, and who at last betrothed himself to 
you under my very eyes ? I was compelled to look on ; I en 
dured it ; but I know how many thousand tears it has cost me. 
This one, too, you have now taken away from me, without 
letting the other go ; and how many do you not manage to 
keep at once ? I am frank and good-natured, and every one 
thinks he knows me soon, and may neglect me. You are 
secret and quiet, and people think wonders of what may be 
concealed behind you. Yet there is nothing behind but a 
cold, selfish heart that can sacrifice everything to itself; this 
nobody learns so easily, because it lies deeply hidden in your 
breast ; and just as little do they know of my warm, true 
heart, which I carry about with me as open as my face." 

Emilia was silent, and had sat down by her sister, who became 
constantly more and more excited in her discourse, and let cer 
tain private matters slip out, which it was not exactly proper for 
me to know. Emilia, on the other hand, w T ho was trying to 
pacify her sister, made me a sign from behind that I should 
withdraw ; but as jealousy and suspicion see with a thousand 
eyes, Lucinda seemed to have noticed this also. She sprang 
up and advanced to me, but not with vehemence. She stood 
before me, and seemed to be thinking of something. Then she 
said, " I know that I have lost you ; I make no further pre 
tensions to you. But neither shall you have him, sister I" 



LTJCINDA S CXTESE. 341 

With these words she grasped me very singularly by the 
head, thrusting both her hands into my locks, pressing my 
face to hers, and kissed me repeatedly on the mouth. " Now," 
cried she, " fear my curse ! Woe upon woe, for ever and ever, 
to her who kisses these lips for the first time after me ! Dare 
tto have anything more to do with him ! I know heaven hears 
nne this time. And you, Sir, hasten now, hasten away as fast 
as vou can ! 

*, 

I flew down the stairs, with the firm determination never 
to enter the house again. 



TENTH BOOK. 



THE German poets, since they, as members of a corporation, 
no longer stood as one man, did not enjoy the smallest advan 
tages in the citizen- world. They had neither support, stand 
ing, nor respectability, except in so far as their other position 
was favourable to them, and therefore it was a matter of mere 
chance whether talent was born to honour or to disgrace. A 
poor son of earth, with a consciousness of mind and faculties, 
was forced to crawl along painfully through life, and, from the 
pressure of momentary necessities, to squander the gifts which 
perchance he had received from the Muses. Occasional poems, 
the first and most genuine of all kinds of poetry, had become 
despicable to such a degree, that the nation even now cannot 
attain a conception of their high value ; and a poet, if he did 
not strike altogether into Gunther s path, appeared in the world 
in the most melancholy state of subserviency, as a jester and 
parasite, so that both on the theatre and on the stage of life 
he represented a character which any one and every one could 
abuse at pleasure* 

If, on the contrary, the Muse associated herself with men of 
respectability, these received thereby a lustre which was 
reflected back to the donor. Noblemen well versed in life, 
like Hagedorn, dignified citizens, like Brockes, distinguished 
men of science, like Haller, appeared among the first in the 
nation, to be equal with the most eminent and the most prized. 
Those persons, too, were specially honoured, who, together 
with this pleasing talent, distinguished themselves as active, 
faithful men of business. In this way Uz, Rabener, and 
Weisse enjoyed a respect of quite a peculiar kind ; people had 
here to value, when combined, those most heterogeneous 
qualities which are seldom found united. 

But now the time was to come when poetic genius should 
become aware of itself, should create for itself its own relations, 
and understand how to lay the foundation of an independent 
dignity. Everything necessary to found such an epoch was 



KLOPSTOCK. 343 

combined in KLOPSTOCK. Considered both from the sensual 
and moral side, he was a pure young- man. Seriously and 
thoroughly educated, he places, from his youth upwards, a great 
value upon himself and upon whatever he does, and while 
considerately measuring out beforehand the steps of his life, 
turns, with a presentiment of the whole strength of his internal 
nature, towards the loftiest and most grateful theme. The 
Messiah, a name which betokens infinite attributes, was to be 
glorified afresh by him. The Redeemer was to be the hero 
whom the poet thought to accompany through earthly lowli 
ness and sorrows to the highest heavenly triumphs. Every 
thing Godlike, angelic, and human that lay in the young soul 
was here called into requisition. Brought up by the Bible 
and nourished by its strength, he now lives with patriarchs, 
prophets, and forerunners, as if they were present; yet all 
these are only evoked from ages to draw a bright halo round 
the One whose humiliation they behold with astonishment, 
and in whose exaltation they are gloriously to bear a part. 
For at last, after gloomy and horrible hours, the everlasting 
Judge will uncloud his face, again acknowledge his Son and 
fellow-God, who, on the other hand, will again lead to Him 
alienated men, nay, even a fallen spirit. The living heavens 
shout with a thousand angel voices round the throne, and a 
radiance of love gushes out over the universe, which shortly 
before had fastened its looks upon a fearful place of sacrifice. 
The heavenly peace which Klopstock felt in the conception 
and execution of this poem, communicates itself even now to 
every one who reads the first ten cantos, without allowing 
certain requisitions to be brought forward, which an advancing 
cultivation does not willingly abandon. 

The dignity of the subject elevated in the poet the feeling 
of his own personality. That he himself would enter here 
after into those choirs, that the God-Man would distinguish 
him, nay, give him face to face the reward for his labours, 
w r hich even here every feeling, pious heart had fondly paid in 
many a pure tear these were such innocent, childlike thoughts 
and hopes, as only a well-constituted mind can conceive and 
cherish. Thus Klopstock gained the perfect right to regard 
himself as a consecrated person, and thus in his actions he 
studied the most scrupulous purity. Even in his old age it 
troubled him exceedingly that he had given his earliest love 



344 TRUTH AXD POETRY ; PROM MY OWN LIFE. 

to a lady who, by marrying another, left him in uncertainty 
whether she had really loved him or been worthy of him. The 
sentiments which bound him to Meta, their hearty, tranquil 
affection, their short sacred married life, the aversion of the 
surviving husband from a second union, all is of that kind which 
may well be remembered hereafter in the circle of the blessed. 

This honourable conduct towards himself was still further 
enhanced by his being favourably received for a long time in 
well-minded Denmark, in the house of a great, and, humanly 
speaking, excellent statesman. Here, in a higher circle, which 
was exclusive indeed, but, at the same time, devoted to external 
manners and attention towards the world, his tendency became 
still more decided. A composed demeanour, a measured 
speech, and a laconism even when he spoke openly and 
decidedly, gave him, through his whole life, a certain diplo 
matic ministerial consequence, which seemed to be at variance 
with his tender natural feelings, although both sprang from 
one source. Of all this, his first works give a clear transcript 
and type, and they thus could not but gain an incredible influ 
ence. That, however, he personally assisted others who were 
struggling in life and poetry, has scarcely been mentioned, as 
one of his most decided characteristics. 

But just such a furtherance of young people in literary 
action and pursuit, a hopeful pleasure in bringing forward 
men not favoured by fortune, and making the way easy to 
them, has rendered illustrious one German, who, in respect to 
the dignity which he gave himself, may be named as the second, 
but, in regard to his living influence, as the first. It will 
escape no one that GLEIM is here meant. In possession of an 
obscure, indeed, but lucrative office, residing in a pleasantly 
situated spot, not too large, and enlivened by military, civic, 
and literary activity, whence proceeded the revenues of a great 
and wealthy institution, not without a part of them remaining 
behind for the advantage of the place, he felt within himself 
also a lively productive impulse, which, however, with all its 
strength, was not quite enough for him, and therefore he 
gave himself up to another, perhaps stronger impulse, namely, 
that of making others produce something. Both these activities 
were intertwined incessantly during his whole long life. He 
could as easily have lived without taking breath, as without 
writing poetry and making presents, and by helping needy 



KLOPSTOCK AND GLEIM. -345 

talents of all kinds through earlier or later embarrassments, 
contributing to the honour of literature, he gained so many 
friends, debtors, and dependents, that they willingly allowed his 
diffuse verses to pass, since they could give him nothing in 
return for his rich benefits but endurance of his poetry. 

Now, the high idea which these two men might well form 
of their own worth, and by which others were induced also 
to think themselves somebody, has produced very great and 
beautiful results, both in public and private. But this con 
sciousness, honourable as it is, called a peculiar evil down for 
themselves, for those around them, and for their time. If, 
judging from their intellectual effects, both these men may 
without hesitation be called great, with respect to the world 
they remained but small, and considered in comparison with 
a more stirring life, their external position was nought. The 
day is long, and so is the night ; one cannot be always writ 
ing poetry, or doing, or giving ; their time could not be filled 
up like that of people of the world, and men of rank and 
wealth; they therefore set too high a value on their par 
ticular limited situations, attached an importance to their 
daily affairs which they should only have allowed themselves 
amongst each other, and took more than reasonable delight in 
their own jokes, which, though they made the moment agree 
able, could be of no consequence in the end. They received 
praise and honour from others, as they deserved ; they gave it 
back, with measure indeed, but always too profusely ; and 
because they felt that their friendship was worth much, they 
were pleased to express it repeatedly, and in this spared neither 
paper nor ink. Thus arose those correspondences, at the defi 
ciency of which in solid contents the modern world wonders, nor 
can it be blamed, when it hardly sees the possibility of eminent 
men delighting themselves in such an interchange of nothing, 
or when it expresses the wish that such leaves might have 
remained unprinted. But we may suffer these few volumes 
always to stand along with so many others upon our book 
shelves, if we have learned from them the fact that even the 
most eminent man lives only by the day, and enjoys but a 
sorry entertainment, when he throws himself too much back 
upon himself, and neglects to grasp into the fulness of the 
external world, where alone he can find nourishment for his 
growth, and at the same time a standard for its measurement. 



346 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

The activity of these men was in its finest bloom, when we 
young folks began also to bestir ourselves in our own circle, 
and with my younger friends, if not with older persons too, I 
was pretty much in the way of falling into this sort of mutual 
flattery, forbearance, raising and supporting. In my imme 
diate sphere, whatever I produced could always be reckoned 
good. Ladies, friends, and patrons will not consider bad that 
which is imdertaken and written out of affection for them. 
From such obligations at last arises the expression of an empty 
satisfaction with each other, in the phrases of which a cha 
racter is easily lost, if it is not from time to time steeled to 
higher excellence. 

And thus I had the happiness to say that, by means of an 
unexpected acquaintance, all the self-complacency, love of the 
looking-glass, vanity, pride, and haughtiness that might have 
been resting or working within me, were exposed to a very 
severe trial, which was unique in its kind, by no means in 
accordance with the time, and therefore so much the more 
searching and more sorely felt. 

For the most important event, one that was to have the 
weightiest consequences for me, was my acquaintance with 
HERDER, and the nearer connexion with him which sprung 
from it. He accompanied the travels of the Prince of Hol- 
stein-Eutin, who was in a melancholy state of mind, and had 
come with him to Strasburg. Our society, as soon as it knew 
of his arrival, was seized with a great longing to approach 
him, and this good fortune happened to me first, quite unex 
pectedly and by chance. I had gone to the Ghost tavern to 
inquire after some distinguished stranger or other. Just at 
the bottom of the staircase I found a man who was on the point 
of ascending, and whom I might have taken for a clergyman. 
His powdered hair was put up in a queue, his black clothes 
likewise distinguished him, but still more a long black silk 
mantle, the skirts of which he had gathered up and stuck into 
his pocket. This somewhat striking, but yet, on the whole, 
polite and pleasing figure, of which I had already been told, 
left me not the least doubt that he was the celebrated new 
comer, and my address was to convince him at once that I 
knew him. He asked my name, which could be of no conse 
quence to him ; but my frankness seemed to please him, since 
he returned it with great friendliness, and as we mounted the 



HERDEK. 347 

stairs, showed himself ready immediately for animated com 
munication. I have forgotten whom we visited then ; it is 
sufficient to say, that at parting I begged permission to wait 
on him at his own residence, which he granted me kindly 
enough. I did not neglect to avail myself repeatedly of this 
favour, and was more and more attracted by him. He had 
somewhat of softness in his manner, w r hich was very suitable 
and becoming, without being exactly easy. A round face, an 
imposing forehead, a somewhat puggish nose, a mouth some 
what prominent, but highly characteristic, pleasing, and ami 
able ; a pair of coal-black eyes under black eye-brows, which 
did not fail of their effect, although one of them used to be red 
and inflamed. By various questions he tried to make himself 
acquainted with me and my situation, and his power of attrac 
tion operated on me with growing strength. I was, generally 
speaking, of a very confiding disposition, and with him espe 
cially I had no secrets. It was not long, however, before the 
repelling pulse of his nature began to appear, and placed me 
in no small uneasiness. I related to him many things of my 
youthful occupations and taste, and among others, of a collec 
tion of seals, which I had principally gotten together through 
the assistance of our family friend, who had an extensive cor 
respondence. I had arranged them according to the State 
Calendar, and by this means had become well acquainted with 
the whole of the potentates, the greater and lesser mightinesses 
and powers, even down to the nobility under them. These 
heraldic insignia had often, and in particular at the ceremonies 
of the coronation, been of use to my memory. I spoke of these 
things with some complacency ; but he was of another opinion, 
and not only stripped the subject of all interest, but also con 
trived to make it ridiculous and nearly disgusting. 

From this his spirit of contradiction I had much to endure ; 
for he had resolved, partly because he wished to separate from 
the prince, partly on account of a complaint in his eye, to re 
main in Strasburg. This complaint is one of the most incon 
venient arid unpleasant, and the more troublesome since it can 
be cured only by a painful, highly irritating and uncertain 
operation. The tear-bag is closed below, so that the moisture 
contained in it cannot flow off to the nose, and so much the 
less as the adjacent bone is deficient in the aperture by which 
this secretion should naturally take place. The bottom of the 



348 TKXJTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

tear-bag must therefore be cut open, and the bone bored 
through, when a horse-hair is drawn through the lachrymal 
point, then down through the opened bag, and the new canal 
thus put into connexion with it, and this hair is moved back 
wards and forwards every day, in order to restore the commu 
nication between the two parts ; all which cannot be done or 
attained, if an incision is not first made externally in that 
place. 

Herder was now separated from the prince, was moved into 
lodgings of his own, and resolved to have himself operated 
upon by Lobstein. Here those exercises by which I had 
sought to blunt my sensibility did me good service ; I was 
able to be present at the operation, and to be serviceable and 
helpful in many ways to so worthy a man. I found here every 
reason to admire his great firmness and endurance : for neither 
during the numerous surgical operations, nor at the oft-repeated 
painful dressings, did he show himself in any degree irritable, 
and of all of us he seemed to be the one who suffered least. 
But in the intervals, indeed, we had to endure the changes of 
his temper in many ways. I say we, for besides myself, a 
pleasant Russian, named PEGLOW, was mostly with him. 
This man had been an early acquaintance of Herder s in Riga, 
and though no longer a youth, was trying to perfect himself 
in surgery under Lobstein s guidance. Herder could be charm 
ingly prepossessing and brilliant, but he could just as easily 
turn an ill-humoured side foremost. AH men, indeed, have 
this attraction and repulsion, according to their nature, some 
more, some less, some in longer, some in shorter pulsations ; 
few can really control their peculiarities in this respect, many 
in appearance. As for Herder, the preponderance of his con 
tradictory, bitter, biting humour was certainly derived from his 
disease and the sufferings arising from it. This case often 
occurs in life ; one does not sufficiently take into consideration 
the moral effect of sickly conditions, and one therefore judges 
many characters very unjustly, because it is assumed that all 
men are healthy, and required of them that they shall conduct 
themselves accordingly. 

During the whole time of this cure I visited Herder morn 
ing and evening ; I even remained whole days with him, and 
in a short time accustomed myself so much the more to his 
chiding and fault-finding, as I daily learned to appreciate his 






HEBDEK. 349 

beautiful and great qualities, his extensive knowledge, and his 
profound views. The influence of this good-natured blusterer 
was great and important. He was five years older than 
myself, which in younger days makes a great difference to 
begin with ; and as I acknowledged him for what he was, and 
tried to value that which he had already produced, he neces 
sarily gained a great superiority over me. But the situa 
tion was not comfortable ; for older persons, with whom I 
had associated hitherto, had sought to form me with indul 
gence, perhaps had even spoiled me by their lenity ; but from 
Herder, behave as one might, one could never expect ap 
proval. As now, on the one side, my great affection and 
reverence for him, and on the other, the discontent which he 
excited in me, were continually at strife with each other, 
there arose within me an inward struggle, the first of its kind 
which I had experienced in my life. Since his conversations 
were at all times important, whether he asked, answered, or 
communicated his opinions in any other manner, he could not 
but advance me daily, nay hourly, to new views. At Leipzig, 
I had accustomed myself to a narrow and circumscribed exist 
ence, and my general knowledge of German literature could 
not be extended by my situation in Frankfort ; nay, those 
mystico-religio- chemical occupations had led me into obscure 
regions, and what had been passing for some years back in 
the wide literary world, had for the most part remained un 
known to me. Now I was at once made acquainted by Her 
der with all the new aspiration, and all the tendencies which 
it seemed to be taking. He had already made himself suffi 
ciently known, and by his Fragments, his Kritische Wdlder 
(Critical Woods), and other works, had immediately placed 
himself by the side of the most eminent men who had for a 
long time drawn towards them the eyes of their country. 
What an agitation there must have been in such a mind 
what a fermentation there must have been in such a nature- 
can neither be conceived nor described. But great was cer 
tainly the concealed effort, as will be easily admitted, when one 
reflects for how many years afterwards and how much he has 
done and produced. 

We had not lived together long in this manner when he 
confided to me that he meant to be a competitor for the prize 



350 TRUTH AND POETRY; PROM MY OWN LIFE. 

\ 

which was offered, at Berlin, for the best treatise on the 
origin of language. His work was already nearly com 
pleted, and, as he wrote a very neat hand, he could soon com 
municate to me, in parts, a legible manuscript. I had never 
reflected on such subjects, for I was yet too deeply involved 
in the midst of things to have thought about their beginning 
and end. The question, too, seemed to me in some measure 
an idle one ; for if God had created man as man, language 
was just as innate in him as walking erect ; he must have 
just as well perceived that he could sing with his throat, and 
modify the tones in various ways with tongue, palate, and 
lips, as he must have remarked that he could walk and take 
hold of things. If man was of divine origin, so was also lan 
guage itself; and if man, considered in the circle of nature, 
was a natural being, language was likewise natural. These 
two things, like soul and body, I could never separate. Sil- 
berschlag, with a realism crude yet somewhat fantastically 
devised, had declared himself for the divine origin, that is, 
that God had played the schoolmaster to the first men. Her 
der s treatise went to show that man as man could and must 
have attained to language by his own powers. I read the 
treatise with much pleasure, and it was of special aid in 
strengthening my mind ; only I did not stand high enough 
either in knowledge or thought to form a solid judgment upon 
it. I therefore gave the author my applause, adding only a 
few remarks which flowed from my way of viewing the sub 
ject. But one was received just like the other ; there was 
scolding and blaming, whether one agreed with him condi 
tionally or unconditionally. The fat surgeon had less patience 
than I ; he humorously declined the communication of this 
prize-essay, and affirmed that he was not prepared to medi 
tate on such abstract topics. He urged us in preference to a 
game of ombre, which we commonly played together in the 



evening. 



During so troublesome and painful a cure, Herder lost 
nothing of his vivacity ; but it became less and less amiable. 
He could not write a note to ask for anything, that would not 
be spiced with some scoff or other. Once, for instance, he 
wrote to me thus : 



HEUDEH S SARCASMS. 351 

" If those letters of Brutus thou hast in thy Cicero s letters, 
Thou, whom consolers of schools, deck d out in magnificent bindings, 
Soothe from their well plan d shelves yet more by the outside than 

inside, 

Thou, who from gods art descended, or Goths, or from origin filthy,* 
Gothe, send them to me." 

It was not polite, indeed, that he should allow himself this 
jest on my name ; for a man s name is not like a mantle, 
which merely hangs about him, and which, perchance, may 
be safely twitched and pulled ; but is a perfectly fitting gar 
ment, which has grown over and over him like his very skin, 
at which one cannot rake and scrape without wounding the 
man himself. 

The first reproach, on the contrary, was better founded. 
I had brought with me to Strasburg the authors I had ob 
tained, by exchange, from Langer, with various fine editions 
from my father s collection besides, and had set them up on a 
neat book-case, with the best intentions of using them. But 
how should my time, which I split up into an hundred 
different activities, suffice for that ? Herder, who was most 
attentive to books, since he had need of them every moment, 
perceived my fine collection at his first visit, but soon saw, 
too, that I made no use of them. He, therefore, as the 
greatest enemy to all false appearances and ostentation, was 
accustomed, on occasion, to rally me upon the subject. 

Another sarcastic poem occurs to me, which he sent me 
one evening, when I had been telling him a great deal about 
the Dresden gallery. I had, indeed, not penetrated into the 
higher meaning of the Italian school ; but Dominico Feti, an 
excellent artist, although a humorist, and therefore not of 
the first rank, had interested me much. Scripture subjects 
had to be painted. He confined himself to the New Testa 
ment parables, and was fond of representing them with much 
originality, taste, and good-humour. He brought them alto 
gether into every- day life, and the spirited and naive details 
of his compositions, recommended by a free pencil, had made 
a vivid impression upon me. At this, my childish enthusiasm 
for art. Herder sneered in the following fashion : 

* The German word is " Koth," and the whole object of the line is to 
introduce a play on the words " Gothe," " Gotter," " Gothen," and 
" Koth." Trans. 



352 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

" From sympathy, 
The master I like best of all 
Dominico Feti they call. 
A parable from Scripture he is able 
Neatly to turn into a crazy fable. 
From sympathy : thou crazy parable ! " 

I could mention many jokes of the kind, more or less clear 
or abstruse, cheerful or bitter. They did not vex me, but 
made me feel uncomfortable. Yet since I knew how to value 
highly everything that contributed to my own cultivation, and 
as I had often given up former opinions and inclinations, I 
soon accommodated myself, and only sought, as far as it was 
possible for me from my point of view, to distinguish just 
blame from unjust invectives. And thus no day passed over 
that had not been, in the most fruitful manner, instructive 
to me. 

I was made acquainted by him with poetry from quite a 
different side, in another light than heretofore, and one, too, 
which suited me well. The poetic art of the Hebrews, which 
he treated ingeniously after his predecessor Lowth popular 
poetry, the traditions of which in Alsace he urged us to 
search after ; and the oldest records existing as poetry all 
bore witness that poetry in general was a gift to the world 
and to nations, and not the private inheritance of a few re 
fined, cultivated men. I swallowed all this, and the more 
eager I was in receiving, the more liberal was he in giving, 
so that we spent the most interesting hours together. The 
other natural studies which I had begun, I endeavoured to 
continue, and as one always has time enough, if one will apply 
it well, so amongst them all I succeeded in doing twice or thrice 
~s much as usual. As to the fulness of those few weeks during 
which we lived together, I can well say that all which Herder 
has gradually produced since, was then announced in the 
germ, and that I thereby fell into the fortunate condition that 
I could completely attach to something higher, and expand all 
that I had hitherto thought, learned, and made my own. 
Had Herder been methodical, I should have found the most 
precious guide for giving a durable tendency to my cultiva 
tion ; but he was more inclined to examine and stimulate, 
than to lead and conduct. Thus he at first made me acquainted 
with Hamann s writings, upon which he set a very great value. 



HERDER S DEPARTURE. 353 

But instead of instructing me as to these, and making the 
bias and drift of his extraordinaiy mind intelligible to me, it 
generally only served him for amusement when I behaved 
strangely enough, in trying to get at the meaning of such sibyl 
line leaves. However, I could well feel that something in 
Hamann s writings appealed to me ; and to this I gave myself 
up, without knowing whence it came or whither it was leading 
me. 

After the cure had lasted longer than was reasonable, Lob- 
stein had begun to hesitate, and to repeat himself in his treat 
ment, so that the affair would not come to an end; and 
Peglow, too, had confided to me in private that a favourable 
Issue was hardly to be expected ; the whole position became 
gloomy; Herder became impatient and out of temper, he 
could not succeed in continuing his activity as heretofore, 
and was obliged to restrain himself the more, as they began 
to lay the blame of the surgical failure upon his too great 
mental exertion, and his uninterrupted, animated, nay, merry 
intercourse with us. It is sufficient to say, that after so much 
trouble and suffering, the artificial tear-channel would not 
form itself, and the communication intended would not take 
place. It was necessary to let the wound heal over in order 
that the disease should not become worse. If, now, during 
the operation, one could but admire Herder s firmness under 
such pains, his melancholy and even fierce resignation to the 
idea that he must bear such a blot about him all his life, had 
-about it something truly sublime, by which he gained for 
ever the reverence of those who saw and loved him. This 
disease, which disfigured so expressive a countenance, must 
have been so much the more afflicting to him, as he had become 
.acquainted with an excellent lady in Darmstadt, and had 
gained her affections. It may have been for this cause prin 
cipally that he submitted to the cure, in order, on his return, 
to appear more free, more cheerful, and more handsome in the 
eyes of his half- betrothed, and to unite himself more certainly 
and indissolubly with her. However, he hastened away from. 
Strasburg as soon as possible, and since his stay had hitherto 
been as expensive as it was unpleasant, I borrowed a sum of 
money for him, which he promised to refund by an appointed 
clay. The time passed without the arrival of the money. My 
creditor, indeed, did not dun me ; but I was for several weeks 

2 A 



354 TRUTH AND POETBY ; FUCXM MY OWN LIFE. 

in embarrassment. At last the letter and the money came, 
and even here he did not act unlike himself ; for, instead of 
thanks or an apology, his letter contained nothing but satirical 
tilings in doggerel verse, which would have puzzled, if not 
alienated, another ; but it did not move me at all, for I had 
conceived so great and powerful an idea of his worth that it 
absorbed everything of an opposite nature which could have 
injured it. 

One should never speak, publicly at least, of one s own 
faults, or those of others, if one does not hope to effect some 
useful purpose by it ; on this account I will here insert cer 
tain remarks which force themselves upon me. 

Gratitude and ingratitude belong to those events which 
appear every moment in the moral world, and about which 
men can never agree among themselves. I usually distinguish 
between ( noil -thankfulness, ingratitude, and aversion from 
gratitude. The first is innate with men, nay, created with 
them ; for it arises from a happy volatile forgetfumess of the 
repulsive as well as of the delightful, by which alone the con 
tinuation of life is possible. Man needs such an infinite 
quantity of previous and concurrent assistances for a tolerable 
existence, that if he would always pay to the sun and the 
earth, to God and nature, to ancestors and parents, to friends 
and companions, the thanks due to them, he would have 
neither time nor feeling left to receive and enjoy new benefits. 
But if the natural man suffers this volatility to get the control 
in and over him, a cold indifference gains more and more the 
ascendancy, and one at last regards one s benefactor as a 
stranger, to whose injury, perhaps, anything may be under 
taken, provided it be advantageous to ourselves. This alone 
can properly be called ingratitude, which results from the 
rudeness into which the uncultivated nature must necessarily 
lose itself at last. Aversion from gratitude, however, the 
rewarding of a benefit by ill-natured and sullen conduct, is 
very rare, and occurs only in eminent men, such as, with great 
natural gifts, and a presentiment of them, being born in a 
lower rank of society or in a helpless condition, must, from 
their youth upwards, force themselves along, step by step, and 
receive, at every point, aids and supports, which are often 
embittered and repulsive to them through the coarseness of 
their benefactors, since that which they receive is earthly, 



ARTIFICIAL GRATITUDE. 355 

while that which, on the other hand, they give, is of a higher 
kind, so that what is, strictly speaking, a compensation, is 
out of the question. Lessing, with the fine knowledge of 
earthly things which fell to his share in the best years of his 
life, has in one place bluntly, but cheerfully expressed himself. 
Herder, on the contrary, constantly embittered his finest days, 
both, for himself and others, because he knew not how to 
moderate, by strength of mind in later years, that ill-humour 
which had necessarily seized him in youth. 

One may well make this demand of oneself: for, to a man s 
capability of cultivation, conies, with friendly aid, the light of 
nature, which is always active in enlightening him about 
his condition ; and generally, in many moral points of culture, 
one should not construe the failings too severely, nor look 
about after the most serious and remote means of correcting 
them ; for certain faults may be easily and even playfully 
removed. Thus, for instance, by mere habit, we can excite- 
gratitude in ourselves, keep it alive, and even make it neces 
sary to us. 

In a biographical attempt, it is proper to speak of oneself. 
I am, by nature, as little grateful as any man, and on forget 
ting the benefit received, the violent feeling of a momentary 
disagreement could very easily beguile me into ingratitude. 

To obviate this, I accustomed myself, in the first place, 
with everything that I possessed, to call to mind with pleasure 
how I came bv it, from whom I received it, whether it was- 

t/ 

by way of present, exchange, or purchase, or in any other 
manner. I have accustomed myself, in showing my collec 
tions, to mention the persons by whose means I obtained each 
article, nay, even to do justice to the occasion, to the accident, 
to the remotest cause and coincidence, by which things which 
are dear and of value to me have become mine. That which 
surrounds us thus receives a life ; we see in it a spiritual com 
bination, full of love, reminding us of its origin ; and, by thus 
making past circumstances present to us. our momentary 
existence is elevated and enriched, the originators of the gifts 
rise repeatedly before the imagination, we connect with their 
image a pleasing remembrance, ingratitude becomes impos 
sible, and a return, on occasion, becomes easy and desirable. 
At the same time, we are led to the consideration of that 
which is not a possession palpable to the senses, and we love 

2 A2 



356 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

to recapitulate to whom our higher endowments are to be 
ascribed, and whence they take their date. 

Before I turn my attention from that connexion with Her 
der, which was so important and so rich in consequences for 
me, I find yet something more to adduce. Nothing was more 
natural than that I should by degrees become more and more 
reserved towards Herder, in communicating those things 
which had hitherto contributed to my culture, but especially 
such as still seriously occupied my attention at the moment. 
He had destroyed my enjoyment of so much that I had loved 
before, and had especially blamed me in the strongest manner 
for the pleasure I took in Ovid s Metamorphoses. I might 
defend my favourite as I would, I might say that, for a youth 
ful fancy, nothing could be more delightful than to linger in 
those cheerful and glorious regions with gods and demi-gods, 
and to be a witness of their deeds and passions ; I might cir 
cumstantially quote that previously mentioned opinion of a 
sober-minded man, and corroborate it by my own experience ; 
all this, according to Herder, went for nothing ; there was no 
immediate truth, properly so called, to be found in these 
poems ; here was neither Greece nor Italy, neither a primi 
tive world nor a cultivated one, everything was rather an 
imitation of what had already existed, and a mannerised re 
presentation, such as could be expected only from an over- 
cultivated man. And if at last I would maintain, that what 
ever an eminent individual produces is also nature, and that 
always, in all nations, ancient and modern, the poet alone has 
been the maker ; this was not allowed to pass, and I had to 
endure much on this account, nay, I was almost disgusted with 
my Ovid by it ; for there is no affection, no habit so strong, 
that it can hold out in the long run against the animadver 
sions of eminent men in whom one places confidence. Some 
thing always cleaves to us, and if one cannot love uncondi 
tionally, love is already in a critical condition. 

I most carefully concealed from him my interest in certain 
subjects which had rooted themselves within me, and were, 
by little and little, moulding themselves into poetic form. 
These were Gotz von Berlichingen and Faust. The biography 
of the former had seized my inmost heart. The figure of a 
rude, well-meaning self-helper, in a wild anarchical time, 
awakened my deepest sympathy. The significant puppet- 



HEKDEK S INFLUENCE ON JUNG. 357 

show fable of the latter resounded and vibrated many-toned 
within me. I had also wandered about in all sorts of science, 
and had early enough been led to see its vanity. I had, more 
over, tried ah 1 sorts of ways in real life, and had always returned 
more unsatisfied and troubled. Now these things, as well as 
many others, I carried about with me, and delighted myself 
with them during my solitary hours, but without writing any 
thing down. But most of all, I concealed from Herder my 
mystico-cabalistical chemistry, and everything relating to it, 
although, at the same time, I was still very fond of secretly 
busying myself in working it out more consistently than it 
had been communicated to me. Of my poetical labours, I 
believe I laid before him Die Mitschuldigen, but I do not 
recollect that on this account I received either correction 
or encouragement on his part. Yet, with all this, he remained 
what he was ; whatever proceeded from him had an important, 
if not a cheering effect, and even his handwriting exercised a 
magic power over me. I do not remember having ever torn 
up or thrown away one of his letters, or even a mere envelope 
from his hand ; yet, with my various changes of place and 
time, not one document of those strange, foreboding, and 
happy days is left. 

That Herder s power of attraction operated upon others as 
well as upon me, I should scarcely mention, had I not to re 
mark that it extended itself particularly to JUNG, commonly 
called STILLING. The true, honest striving of this man could 
not but deeply interest everybody who had any feeling, and 
his susceptibility must have charmed into candour every one 
who was in a condition to impart anything. Even Herder 
behaved towards him with more forbearance than towards the 
rest of us : for his counter-action always seemed to stand in 
relation with the action exerted upon him. Jung s narrowness 
was accompanied by so much good-will, his urgency with so 
much softness and earnestness, that a man of intelligence could 
certainly not be severe against him, and a benevolent man 
could not scoff at him, or turn him into ridicule. Jung was 
also exhilarated to such a degree by Herder, that he felt him 
self strengthened and advanced in all he did ; even his affec 
tion for me seemed to lose ground in the same ratio : yet we 
always remained good companions, made allowances for each 
other from first to last, and mutually rendered the most friendly 
services. 



358 TRUTH AND POETEY ; PHOM MY OWN LIFE. 

Let us now, however, withdraw ourselves from the sick 
chamber of friendship, and from the general considerations 
which refer rather to disorder than to health of mind ; let us 
betake ourselves into the open air, to the lofty and broad gal 
lery of the minster, as if the time were still present, when we 
young fellows often appointed an evening meeting to greet the 
departing sun with brimming goblets. Here all conversation 
was lost in the contemplation of the country : here sharpness 
of eye-sight was put to the proof, arid every one strove to per 
ceive, nay, plainly to distinguish, the most distant objects. 
Good telescopes were employed to assist us, and one friend 
after another exactly pointed out the spot which had become 
the most dear and precious to him ; and I also did not lack 
such a little spot, which, although it did not come out with 
importance in the landscape, nevertheless more than all the 
rest attracted me with an amiable magic. On these occasions 
the imagination was excited by relating our adventures, and 
several little jaunts were concerted, nay, often undertaken on 
the spur of the moment, of which I will circumstantially relate 
only one instead of a number, since in many respects it was 
of consequence to me. 

With two worthy friends and fellow-boarders, Engelbach and 
Weyland, both natives of Lower Alsace, I repaired on horse 
back to Zabern, where, in the fine weather, the friendly little 
place smiled pleasantly upon us. The sight of the bishop s 
castle awakened our admiration ; the extent, height, and 
splendour of a new set of stables bore witness to the other 
comforts of the owner. The gorgeousness of the staircase 
surprised us, the chambers and saloons we trode with rever 
ence, only the person of the cardinal, a little wreck of a man, 
whom we saw at table, made a contrast. The view of the 
garden is splendid, and a canal, three quarters of a league long, 
which leads straight up to the middle of the castle, gives a 
high idea of the taste and resources of the former possessors. 
We rambled up and down there, and enjoyed many parts of 
this beautifully situated whole, which lies on the outskirts of 
the magnificent plain of Alsace, at the foot of the Vosges. 

After we had enjoyed ourselves at this clerical outpost of a 
royal power, and had made ourselves comfortable in its region, 
we arrived early next morning at a public work, which most 
nobly opens the entrance into a mighty kingdom. Illumined 



ZABERN BTICHSWEILEE. 359 

by the beams of the rising sun, the famous Zabern-stairs, a 
work of incredible labour, rose before us. A road, built ser 
pentine-wise over the most fearful crags, and wide enough for 
three wagons abreast, leads up hill so gently, that the ascent 
is scarcely perceptible. The hardness and smoothness of the 
way, the flat-topped elevations on both sides for the foot-pas 
sengers, the stone channels to lead off the mountain- water, all 
are executed as neatly as artistically and durably, so that they 
afford a satisfactory view. Thus one gradually arrives at 
Pfalzburg, a modern fortification. It lies upon a moderate 
hill ; the works are elegantly built on blackish rocks, and of 
the same kind of stone, and the joinings being pointed out 
with white mortar, show exactly the size of the square stones, 
and give a striking proof of neat workmanship. We found 
the place itself, as is proper for a fortress, regular, built of 
stone, and the church in good taste. When we wandered 
through the streets it was nine o clock on Sunday morn 
ing we heard music ; they were already waltzing in the 
tavern to their hearts content, and as the inhabitants did not 
suffer themselves to be disturbed in their pleasures by the 
great scarcity, nay, by the threatened famine, so also our 
youthful cheerfulness was not at all troubled when the baker 
on the road refused us some bread, and directed us to the 
tavern, where perhaps we might procure provisions at the 
usual place. 

We now very willingly rode down the Zabern-stairs again, 
to gaze at this architectural wonder a second time, and to en 
joy once more the refreshing prospect over Alsace. We soon 
reached Buchsweiler, where friend Weyland had prepared for 
us a good reception. To a fresh youthful mind the condition 
of a small town is well suited ; family connexions are closer 
and more perceptible ; domestic life, which, with moderate 
activity, moves hither and thither between light official duties, 
town business, agriculture and gardening, invites us to a 
friendly participation; sociableness is necessary, and the 
stranger finds himself very pleasantly situated in the limited 
circles, if the disputes of the inhabitants, which in such places 
are more palpable, do not everywhere come in contact with 
him. This little town was the chief place of the county of 
Hanau-Lichtenberg, belonging to the Landgrave of Darm 
stadt, under French sovereignty. A regency and. board of 



360 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

officers established liere made the place an important centre- 
point of a very beautiful and desirable principality. We 
easily forgot the unequal streets and the irregular architecture 
of the place when we went out to look at the old castle and 
the gardens, which are excellently laid out on a hill. Nume 
rous little pleasure-woods, a preserve for tame and wild phea 
sants, and the relrcs of many similar arrangements, showed 
how pleasant this little residence must formerly have been. 

Yet all these views were surpassed by the prospect which 
met the eye, when, from the neighbouring Baschberg, one 
looked over the perfectly paradisiacal region. This height, 
\vholly heaped together out of different kinds of shells, attracted 
my attention for the first time to such documents of antiquity ; 
I had never before seen them together in so great a mass. 
Yet the curious eye soon turned itself exclusively to the land 
scape. You stand on the last landward* mountain-point; 
towards the north lies a fruitful plain, interspersed with little 
forests, and bounded by a stern row of mountains that stretches 
itself westward towards Zaber, where the episcopal palace and 
the abbey of St. John, lying a league beyond it, may be plainly 
recognised. Thence the eye follows the more and more vanish 
ing chain of the Vosges towards the south. If you turn to the 
north-east you see the castle of Lichtenberg upon a rock, and 
towards the south-east the eye has the boundless plain of Alsace 
to scrutinize, which, afar off, withdraws itself from the sight 
in the more and more misty landscape, until at last the Suabian 
mountains melt away like shadows into the horizon. 

Already in my limited wanderings through the world, I had 
remarked how important it is in travelling to inquire after the 
course of the waters, and even to ask with respect to the 
smallest brook, whither in reality it runs. One thus acquires. 
a general survey of every stream-region, in which one happens 
to be, a conception of the heights and depths which bear rela 
tion to each other, and by these leading lines, which assist the 
contemplation as well as the memory, extricates oneself in the 
surest manner from the geological and political labyrinth. 
With these observations, I took a solemn farewell of my be 
loved Alsace, as the next morning we meant to turn our steps 
towards Lorraine. 

* That is, towards Germany ; Germany is the Land by pre-eminence. 
American Note. 



SAAEBRTJCK. 361 

The evening passed away in familiar conversation, in which 
we tried to cheer ourselves up under a joyless present, by re 
membrances of a better past. Here, as in the whole of this 
small country, the name of the last Count Eeinhard von Hanau 
was blessed above all others; his great understanding and 
aptitude had appeared in all his actions, and many a beautiful 
memorial of his existence yet remained. Such men have the 
advantage of being double benefactors : once to the present, 
which they make happy, and then to the future, the feeling- 
of which and courage they nourish and sustain. 

Now as we turned ourselves north-westward into the moun 
tains, passed by Liitzelstein, an old mountain tower, in a very 
hilly country, and descended into the region of the Saar and 
the Moselle, the heavens began to lower, as if they would 
render yet more sensible to us the condition of the more rugged 
western country. The valley of the Saar, where we first found 
Eockenheim, a small place, and saw opposite to it Neusaarwer- 
den, which is well-built, with a pleasure- castle, is bordered on 
both sides by mountains which might be called melancholy, if 
at their foot an endless succession of meadows and fields, called 
the Huhnau, did not extend as far as Saaralbe, and beyond it, 
further than the eye can reach. Great buildings, belonging to- 
the former stables of the Duke of Lorraine, here attract the eye; 
they are at present used as a dairy, for which purpose, indeed, 
they are very well situated. We passed through Saargemlmd 
to Saarbriick, and this little residence was a bright point in a land 
so rocky and woody. The town, small and hilly, but well 
adorned by the last prince, makes at once a pleasing impres 
sion, as the houses are all painted a greyish white, and the 
different elevation of them affords a variegated view. In the 
middle of a beautiful square, surrounded with handsome build 
ings, stands the Lutheran church, on a small scale, but in pro 
portion with the whole. The front of the castle lies on the 
same level with the town ; the back, on the contrary, on the 
declivity of a steep rock. This has not only been worked out 
terrace-fashion, to afford easy access to the valley, but an ob 
long garden-plot has also been obtained below, by turning off 
the stream on one side, and cutting away the rock on the other, 
after which this whole space was first filled up with earth and 
planted. The time of this undertaking fell in the epoch when 
they used to consult the architects about laying out gardens^ 



362 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIPE. 

just as at present they call in the aid of the landscape-painter s 
eye. The whole arrangement of the castle, the costly and the 
agreeable, the rich and the ornamental, betokened a life-enjoy 
ing owner, such as the deceased prince had been ; the present 
sovereign was not at home. President von Gunderode received 
us in the most obliging manner, and entertained us for three 
days better than we had a right to expect. I made use of the 
various acquaintance which we formed to instruct myself in 
many respects. The life of the former prince, rich in pleasure, 
gave material enough for conversation, as well as the vari 
ous expedients which he hit upon to make use of the advan 
tages supplied by the nature of his land. Here I was now 
properly initiated into the interest for mountain countries, 
and the love for those economical and technical investigations 
which have busied me a great part of my life, was first awakened 
within me. We heard of the rich coal-pits atDutweil, of the iron 
and alum works, and even of a burning mountain, and we pre 
pared ourselves to see these wonders close. 

We now rode through woody mountains, which must seem 
wild and dreary to him who comes out of a magnificent fertile 
land, and \vhich can attract us only by the internal contents 
of its bosom. We were made acquainted with one simple, 
and one complicated piece of machinery, within a short dis 
tance of each other ; namely, a scythe-smithy and a wire 
drawing factory. If one is pleased at the first because it 
supplies the place of common hands, one cannot sufficiently 
admire the other, for it works in a higher organic sense, from 
which understanding and consciousness are scarcely to be 
separated. In the alum- works we made accurate inquiries 
after the production and purifying of this so necessary mate 
rial, and when we saw great heaps of a white greasy, loose, 
earthy matter, and asked the use of it, the labourers answered, 
smiling, that it was the scum thrown up in boiling the alum, 
and that Herr Stauf had it collected, as he hoped perchance 
to turn it to some profit. "Is Herr Stauf alive yet?" ex 
claimed my companion in surprise. They answered in the 
affirmative, and assured us that according to the plan of our 
journey we should not pass far from his lonely dwelling. 

Our road now led up along the channels by which the alum- 
water is conducted down, and the principal horizontal works 
(stollen], which they call the " landgrube" and from which the 



COAL AND ALFM-WOEKS. 363 

famous Dutweil coals are procured. These, when they are 
dry, have the blue colour of darkly tarnished steel, and the 
most beautiful succession of rainbow tints plays over the sur 
face with every movement. The deep abysses of the coal-pits, 
however, attracted us so much the less as their contents lay 
richly poured out around us. We now reached the open mine, in 
which the roasted alum-scales are steeped in ley, and soon 
after, a strange occurrence surprised us, although we had been 
prepared. We entered into a chasm and found ourselves in 
the region of the Burning Mountain. A strong smell of sul 
phur surrounded us ; one side of the cavity was almost red- 
hot, covered with reddish stone burnt white ; thick fumes 
arose from the crevices, and we felt the heat of the ground 
through our strong boot-soles. An event so accidental, for it 
is not known how this place became ignited, affords a great 
advantage for the manufacture of alum, since the alum-scales 
of which the surface of the mountain consists, lie there per 
fectly roasted, and may be steeped in a short time and very 
well. The whole chasm had arisen by the calcined scales 
being gradually removed and used up. We clambered up out 
of this depth, and were on the top of the mountain. A plea 
sant beech-grove encircled the spot, which followed up to the 
chasm and extended itself on both sides of it. Many trees 
stood already dried up, some were withering near others, 
which, as yet quite fresh, felt no forebodings of that fierce heat 
which was approaching and threatening their roots also. 

Upon this space different openings were steaming, others 
had already done smoking, and this fire had thus smouldered 
for ten years already through old broken-up pits and horizontal 
shafts, with which the mountain is undermined. It may, too, 
have penetrated to the clefts through new coal-beds : for, some 
hundred paces further into the wood, they had contemplated 
following up manifest indications of an abundance of coal ; but 
they had not excavated far before a strong smoke burst out 
against the labourers and dispersed them. The opening was 
filled up again, yet we found the place still smoking as we 
went on our way past it to the residence of our hermitlike 
chemist. This lies amid mountains and woods ; the vallies 
there take very various and pleasing windings, the soil round 
about is black and of the coal kind, and strata of it frequently 
come in sight. A coal philosopher -philosophus per ignem, as 



364 TRUTH AND POETRY: PROM MY OWN LIFE. 

they said formerly could scarcely have settled himself more 
suitably. 

We came before a small house, not inconvenient for a 
dwelling, and found Herr Stauf, who immediately recognised 
my friend, and received him with lamentations about the new 
government. Indeed we could see from what he said, that 
the alum- works, as w r ell as many other well-meant establish 
ments, on account of external and perhaps internal circum 
stances also, did not pay their expenses ; with much else of 
the sort. He belonged to the chemists of that time, who, 
with a hearty feeling for all that could be done with the 
products of nature, took delight in abstruse investigations of 
trifles and secondary matters, and with their insufficient know 
ledge were not dexterous enough to do that from which pro 
perly economical and mercantile profit is to be derived. Thus 
the use which he promised himself from that scum lay irery 
far in the distance ; thus he had nothing to show but a cake 
of sal-ammoniac, with which the Burning Mountain had 
supplied him. 

Ready and glad to communicate his complaints to a human 
ear, the lean, decrepit little man, with a shoe on one foot and 
a slipper on the other, and with stockings hanging down and 
repeatedly pulled up in vain, dragged himself up the mountain 
to where the resin-house stands, which he himself had erected, 
and now, with great grief, sees falling to ruins. Here was 
found a connected row of furnaces, where coal was to be 
cleansed of sulphur, and made fit for use in iron- works ; but 
at the same time they wished also to turn the oil and resin to 
account ; nay, they would not even lose the soot ; and thus 
all failed together, on account of the many ends in view. 
During the life-time of the former prince, the business had 
been carried on in the spirit of an amateur, and in hope ; 
now thev asked for the immediate use, w r hich was not to be 

tf 

shown. 

After we left our adept to his solitude, we hastened for it 
was now late to the glass-house in Friedrichsthal, where we 
became acquainted, on our way, with one of the most impor 
tant and most wonderful operations of human ingenuity. 

Nevertheless, some pleasant adventures, and a surprising fire 
work at night-fall, not far from Neukirch, interested us young 
fellows almost more than these important experiences. For as 



ZWEY-BKTTCKEN. 365 

a few nights before, on the banks of the Saar, shining clouds of 
glow-worms hovered around us, betwixt rock and thicket, 
so now the spark- spit ting forges played their sprightly firework 
towards us. We passed, in the depth of night, the smelting, 
houses situated in the bottom of the valley, and were de 
lighted with the strange half-gloom of these dens of plank, 
which are but dimly lighted by a little opening in the glowing 
furnace. The noise of the water, and of the bellows driven 
by it, the fearful whizzing and shrieking of the blast of air 
which, raging into the smelted ore, stuns the ears and con 
fuses the senses, drove us away, at last, to turn into Neukirch, 
which is built up against the mountain. 

But, notwithstanding all the variety and fatigue of the day, 
I could find no rest here. I left my friend to a happy sleep, 
and sought the hunting-seat, which lay still further up. It 
looks out far over mountain and wood, the outlines of which 
were only to be recognised against the clear night-sky, but the 
sides and depths of which were impenetrable to nay sight. This 
well-preserved building stood as empty as it was lonely ; no 
castellan, no huntsman was to be found. I sat before the 
great glass doors upon the steps which run. around the whole 
terrace. Here, surrounded by mountains, over a forest-grown, 
dark soil, which seemed yet darker in contrast with the clear 
horizon of a summer night, with the glowing starry vault 
above me, I sat for a long time by myself on the deserted 
spot, and thought 1 never had felt such a solitude. How 
sweetly, then, was I surprised by the distant sound of a couple 
of French horns, which at once, like the fragrance of balsam, 
enlivened the peaceful atmosphere. Then there awakened 
within me the image of a lovely being, which had retired into 
the background before the motley objects of these travelling 
days, but which now unveiled itself more and more, and drove 
me from the spot back to my quarters, where I made prepa 
rations to set off with the earliest. 

The return was not used like the journey out. Thus we 
hurried through Zwey-briicken (Deux-Ponts), which, as a 
beautiful and notable residence, might well have deserved our 
attention. We cast a glance upon the great, simple castle, 
on the extensive esplanades, regularly planted with linden-trees, 
and very well adapted for the training of race-horses, and on 
the large stables, and the citizens houses which the prince 
had built to be raffled for. All this, as well as the costume 



366 TEUTH AMD POETBY ; PEOM MY OWN LIFE. 

and manners of the inhabitants, especially of the matrons and 
maids, had reference to a distant connexion, and made plainly 
visible the relation with Paris, from which, for a long time, 
nothing transrhenaiie had been able to withdraw itself. We 
visited also the ducal wine-cellars, situated before the city, 
which arc extensive, and furnished with large, well-made tuns. 
We went on further, and at last found the country like that 
in the neighbourhood of Saarbriick. Between wild and savage 

O o 

mountains are a few villages ; one here gets rid of the habit 
of looking about for corn. We mounted up, by the side of 
the Hornbach, to Bitsch, which lies on the important spot 
where the waters divide, and fall, a part into the Saar, a part 
into the Bhine. These last were soon to attract us towards 
them. Yet we could not refuse our attention to the little city 
of Bitsch, which very picturesquely winds around the moun 
tain, nor to the fortress, which lies above. This is partly 
built on rocks, and partly hewn out of them. The subterra 
neous chambers are particularly worthy of remark; here is 
not only space sufficient for the abode of a number of men 
and cattle, but one even lights upon large vaults for the dril 
ling of troops, a mill, a chapel, and whatever else could be 
required under-ground, provided the surface were in a state 
of disturbance. 

We now followed the down-rushing brooks through B aren- 
thal. The thick forests on both the heights remain unused 
by the hand of man. Here trunks of trees lie rotting on 
each other by thousands, and young scions sprout up without 
number from their half-mouldered progenitors. Here, in con 
versation with some companions on foot, the name Von 
Dieterich again struck our ears, which we had often heard 
honourably mentioned already in these woody regions. The 
activity and cleverness of this man, his wealth, and the use 
and applications of it, all seemed in proportion. He could 
with justice take delight in the acquisitions which he increased, 
and enjoy the profits he secured. The more I saw of the 
world, the more pleasure I took, not only in the universally 
famous names, but in those also, especially, which were men 
tioned in particular regions with reverence and love : and thus 
I easily learned here, by a few questions, that Yon Dieterich, 
earlier than others, had known how to make successful use 
of the mountain treasures, iron, coal, and wood, and had 
worked his way to an ever-growing opulence. 



SESEXHEOI. 367 

Niederbrunn, where we now arrived, was a new proof of 
this. He had purchased this little place from the Count of 
Leiningen and other part-owners, to erect important iron 
works in the place. 

Here in these baths, already founded by the Romans, floated, 
around me the spirit of antiquity, venerable relics of which, 
in fragments of bas-reliefs and inscriptions, capitals and shafts, 
shone out strangely towards me, from farm-houses, amidst 
household lumber and furniture. 

As we were ascending the adjacent Wasenburg also, I 
paid my respects to a well-preserved inscription, which dis 
charged a thankful vow to Mercury, and is situated upon 
the great mass of rock which forms the base of the hill on 
one side. The fortress itself lies on the last mountain, looking 
from Bitsch towards Germany. It is the ruin of a German 
castle built upon Roman remains. From the tower the whole 
of Alsace was once more surveyed, and the conspicuous 
minster- spire pointed out the situation of Strasburg. First 
of all, however, the great forest of Hagenau extended itself, 
and the towers of this town peered plainly from behind. I 
was attracted thither. We rode through Reichshof, where 
Von Dieterich built an imposing castle, and after we had 
contemplated from the hills near Niedermoder the pleasing 
course of the little river Moder, by the forest of Hagenau, I 
left my friend on a ridiculous coal-mine visitation, which, at 
Dutweil, might have been a somewhat more serious business, 
and I then rode through Hagenau, on the direct road 
already indicated by my affection to my beloved Sesenheim. 

For all these views into a wild, mountain region, and then, 
again, into a cheerful, fruitful, joyous land, could not rivet my 
mind s eye, which was directed to an amiable, attractive 
object. This time, also, the hither way seemed to me more 
charming than its opposite, as it brought me again into the 
neighbourhood of a lady to whom I w^as heartily devoted, 
and who deserved as much respect as love. But before I lead 
my friends to her rural abode, let me be permitted to men 
tion a circumstance which contributed very much to enliven 
and enhance my affection, and the satisfaction which it 
afforded me. 

How far I must have been behindhand in modern literature, 
may be gathered from the mode of life which I led at Frank- 



368 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

fort, and from the studies to which I had devoted myself; 
nor could my residence in Strasburg have furthered me in 
this respect. Now Herder came, and together with his great 
knowledge brought many other aids, and the later publications 
besides. Among these he announced to us the Vicar of 
Wakefield as an excellent work, with the German translation 
of which he would make us acquainted by reading it aloud to 
us himself. 

His method of reading was quite peculiar ; whoever has 
heard him preach will be able to form a notion of it. He 
delivered everything, this romance included, in a serious and 
simple style, perfectly removed from all dramatically imitative 
representation ; he even avoided that variety \vhich is not only 
permitted, but even required, in an epical delivery a slight 
change of tone when different persons speak, by which what 
-every one says is brought into relief, and the actor is distin 
guished from the narrator. Without being monotonous, 
Herder let everything go on in the same tone, just as if 
nothing was present before him, but all was merely historical ; 
as if the shadows of this poetic creation did not act livingly 
before him, but only glided gently by. Yet this manner of 
delivery from his mouth had an infinite charm ; for, as he felt 
all most deeply, and knew how to estimate the variety of such 
a work, so the whole merit of a production appeared purely 
and the more clearly, as one w r as not disturbed by details 
sharply spoken out, nor interrupted in the feeling which the 
whole was meant to produce. 

A Protestant country clergyman is, perhaps, the most beau 
tiful subject for a modern idyl ; he appears, like Melchizedek, 
as priest and king in one person. To the most innocent situa 
tion which can be imagined on earth, to that of a husband 
man, he is, for the most part, united by similarity of occupa 
tion, as well as by equality in family relationships ; he is a 
father, a master of a family, an agriculturist, and thus per 
fectly a member of the community. On this pure, beautiful, 
earthly foundation, rests his higher calling ; to him is it given 
to guide men through life, to take care of their spiritual edu 
cation, to bless them at all the leading epochs of their exist 
ence, to instruct, to strengthen, to console them, and, if con 
solation is not sufficient for the present, to call up and guaran 
tee the hope of a happier future. Imagine such a man, with 



THE "YICAK OF WAKEFIELD." 369 

pure human sentiments, strong enough not to deviate from 
them under any circumstances, and by this already elevated 
above the multitude, of whom one cannot expect purity and 
firmness ; give him the learning necessary for his office, as 
well as a cheerful, equable activity, which is even passionate, 
as it neglects no moment to do good, and you will have 
him well endowed. But at the same time add the necessary 
limitation, so that he must not only pause in a small circle, 
"but may also perchance pass over to a smaller; grant him 
good-nature, placability, resolution, and everything else praise 
worthy that springs from a decided character, and over all this 
a cheerful spirit of compliance, and a smiling toleration of his 
own failings and those of others, then you will have put 
together pretty well the image of our excellent Wakefield. 

The delineation of this character on his course of life 
through joys and sorrows, the ever-increasing interest of the 
story, by the combination of the entirely natural with the 
strange and the singular, make this novel one of the best which 
has ever been written ; besides this, it has the great advan 
tage that it is quite moral, nay, in a pure sense, Christian- 
represents the reward of a good will and perseverance in the 
right, strengthens an unconditional confidence in God, and 
attests the final triumph of good over evil ; and all this with 
out a trace of cant or pedantry. The author was preserved 
from both of these by an elevation of mind that shows itself 
throughout in the form of irony, by which this little work 
must appear to us as wise as it is amiable. The author, 
Dr. Goldsmith, has without question great insight into the 
moral world, into its strength and its infirmities ; but at the 
same time he can thankfully acknowledge that he is an 
Englishman, and reckon highly the advantages which his 
country and his nation afford him. The family, with the de 
lineation of which he occupies himself, stands upon one of 
the last steps of citizen comfort, and yet comes in contact 
with the highest; its narrow circle, which becomes still 
more contracted, touches upon the great world through the 
natural and civil course of things ; this little skiff floats on. 
the agitated waves of English life, and in weal or woe it 
has to expect injury or help from the vast fleet which sails 
around it. 

I may suppose that my readers know this work, and have 



370 TETJTH AKD POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

it in memory ; whoever hears it named for the first time here, 
as well as he who is induced to read it again, will thank me. 
For the former, I would merely make the cursory remark, 
that the vicar s wife is of that good, busy sort, who allows 
herself and her own to want for nothing, but who is also some 
what vain of herself and her own. There are two daughters, > 
Olivia, handsome and more devoted to the external, and. 
Sophia, charming and more given to the internal ; nor will I 
omit to mention an industrious son, Moses, who is somewhat 
blunt and emulous of- his father. 

If Herder could be accused of any fault in his reading aloud, 
it was impatience ; he did not wait until the hearer had heard 
and comprehended a certain part of the progress, so as to be 
able to feel and think correctly about it; hurrying on, he 
would see their effect at once, and yet he was displeased even 
with this when it manifested itself. He blamed the excess of 
feeling which overflowed from me more and more at every 
step. I felt like a man, like a young man ; everything was 
living, true, and present before me. He, considering only 
the intrinsic contents and form, saw clearly, indeed, that I was 
overpowered by the subject-matter, and this he would not 
allow. Then Peglow s reflections, which were not of the most 
refined, were still worse received ; but he was especially angry 
at our want of keenness in not seeing beforehand the contrasts 
of which the author often makes use, and in suffering ourselves 
to be moved and carried away by them without remarking the 
oft-returning artifice. He would not pardon us for not seeing 
at once, or at least suspecting at the very beginning, where 
Burchell is on the point of discovering himself by passing ovex 4 
in his narration from the third to the first person, that he him 
self is the lord of whom he is speaking ; and when, finally, we 
rejoiced like children at the discovery and the transformation 
of the poor, needy wanderer, into a rich, powerful lord, he 
immediately recalled the passage, which, according to the 
author s plan, we had overlooked, and read us a powerful 
lecture on our stupidity. It will be seen from this that he re 
garded the work merely as a production of art, and required 
the same of us, who were yet wandering in that state where it 
is very allowable to let works of art affect us like productions- 
of nature. 

I did not suffer myself to be at all perplexed by 



PLEASUKES OF TRAVELLING INCOGNITO. 371 

invectives; for young people have the happiness or unhap- 
piness, that, when once anything has produced an effect on 
them, this effect must be wrought out within themselves ; 
from which much good, as well as much mischief, arises. The 
above work had left with me a great impression, for which I 
could not account, but properly speaking, I felt myself in har- 
monv with that ironical tone of mind which elevates itself 

% 

above every object, above fortune and misfortune, good and 
evil, death and life, and thus attains to the possession of a truly 
poetical world. I could not, indeed, become conscious of this 
until later ; it was enough that it gave me much to do at the 
moment ; but I could by no means have expected to be so soon 
transposed from this fictitious world into a similar real one. 

My fellow-boarder, Weyland, who enlivened his quiet, labo 
rious life by visiting from time to time his friends and relations 
in the country (for he was a native of Alsace), did me many 
services on my little excursions, by introducing me to different 
localities and families, sometimes in person, sometimes by re 
commendations. He had often spoken to me about a country 
clergyman who lived near Drusenheim, six leagues from Stras- 
burg, in possession of a good benefice, with an intelligent wife 
and a pair of amiable daughters. The hospitality and agree- 
ableness of this family were always highly extolled. It scarcely 
needed so much to draw thither a young knight who had 
already accustomed himself to spend all his leisure days and 
hours on horseback and in the open air. We decided there 
fore upon this trip, and my friend had to promise that on 
introducing me he would say neither good nor ill of me, but 
would treat me with general indifference, and would allow me 
to make my appearance clad, if not meanly, yet somewhat 
poorly and negligently. He consented to this, and promised 
himself some sport from it. 

It is a pardonable whim in men of consequence, to place 
their exterior advantages in concealment now and then, so as- 
to allow their own internal human nature to operate with the 
greater purity. For this reason the incognito of princes, and 
the adventures resulting therefrom, are always highly pleas 
ing ; these appear disguised divinities, who can reckon at 
double its value all the good offices shown to them as indivi 
duals, and are in such a position that they can either make 
light of the disagreeable or avoid it. That Jupiter should be 

2B 2 



372 TRUTH AKD POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

well pleased in his incognito with Philemon and Baucis, and 
Henry the Fourth with his peasants after a hunting party, is 
quite conformable to nature, and we like it well ; but that a 
young man without importance or name, should take it into 
his head to derive some pleasure from an incognito, might be 
construed by many as an unpardonable piece of arrogance. 
Yet since the question here is not of such views and actions, 
so far as they are praiseworthy or blameable, but so far as they 
can manifest themselves and actually occur, we will on this 
occasion, for the sake of our own amusement, pardon the 
youngster his self-conceit ; and the more so, as I must here 
allege, that from youth upwards, a love for disguising myself 
had been excited in me even by my stern father. 

This time, too, partly by some cast-off clothes of my own, 
partly by some borrowed garments and by the manner of 
combing my hair, I had, if not disfigured myself, yet at least 
decked myself out so oddly, that my friend could not help 
laughing on the way, especially as I knew how to imitate per 
fectly the bearing and gestures of such figures when they sit 
on horseback, and which are called " Latin riders." The fine 
road, the most splendid weather, and the neighbourhood of 
the Rhine, put us in the best humour. At Drusenheim we 
stopped a moment, he to make himself spruce, and I to re 
hearse my part, out of which I was afraid I should now and 
then fall. The country here has the characteristics of all the 
open, level Alsace. We rode on a pleasant foot-path over 
the meadows, soon reached Sesenheim, left our horses at the 
tavern, and walked leisurely towards the parsonage. " Do not be 
put out," said Weyland, showing me the house from a distance, 
" because it looks like an old miserable farm-house, it is so 
much the younger inside." We stepped into the court-yard; 
the whole pleased me well : for it had exactly that which is 
called picturesque, and which had so magically interested me 
in Dutch art. The effect which time produces on all human 
work was strongly perceptible. House, barn, and stable were 
just at that point of dilapidation where, indecisive and doubt 
ful between preserving and rebuilding, one often neglects the 
one without being able to accomplish the other. 

As in the village, so in the court-yard, all was quiet and 
deserted. We found the father, a little man, wrapped up 
within himself, but friendly notwithstanding, quite alone, for 



THE PASTOR S FAMILY. 373 

the family were in the fields. He bade us welcome, and offered 

v 

us some refreshment, which, we declined. My friend hurried 
away to look after the ladies, and I remained alone with our 
host. " You are perhaps surprised," said he, " to find me so 
miserably quartered in a wealthy village, and with a lucrative 
benefice ; but," he continued, u this proceeds from irresolu 
tion. Long since it has been promised me by the parish, and 
even by those in higher places, that the house shall be rebuilt ; 
many plans have been already drawn, examined and altered, 
none of them altogether rejected, and none carried into execu 
tion. This has lasted so many years, that I scarcely know how 
to command my impatience." I made him an answer such as 
I thought likely to cherish his hopes, and to encourage him to 
pursue the affair more vigorously. Upon this he proceeded to 
describe familiarly the personages on whom such matters de 
pended, and although he was no great delineator of character, 
I could nevertheless easily comprehend how the whole busi 
ness must have been delayed. The confidential tone of the 

*/ 

man was something peculiar ; he talked to me as if he had 
known me for ten years, while there was nothing in his look 
from which I could have suspected that he was directing any 
attention to me. At last my friend came in with the mother. 
She seemed to look at me with quite different eyes. Her 
countenance was regular, and the expression of it intelligent ; 
she must have been beautiful in her youth. Her figure was 
tall and spare, but not more so than became her years, and 
when seen from behind, she had yet quite a youthful and pleas 
ing appearance. The elder daughter then came bouncing in 
briskly ; she inquired after Frederica, just as both the others 
had also done. The father assured them that he had not seen 
her since all three had gone out together. The daughter again 
went out at the door to look for her sister ; the mother brought 
us some refreshment, and Weyland, with the old couple, con 
tinued the conversation, which referred to nothing but known 
persons and circumstances ; as, indeed, it is usually the case 
when acquaintances meet after some length of time, that they 
make inquiries, and mutually give each other information 
about the members of a large circle. I listened, and now 
learned how much I had to promise myself from this circle. 

The elder daughter again came hastily back into the room, 
uneasy at not having found her sister. They were anxious 



374 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

about her, and blamed her for this or that bad habit ; only the 
father said, very composedly, " Let her alone ; she has already 
come back ! At this instant she really entered the door; and 
then truly a most charming star arose in this rural heaven. 
Both daughters still wore nothing but German, as they used 
to call it, and this almost obsolete national costume became 
Frederica particularly well. A short, white, full skirt, with a 
furbelow, not so long but that the neatest little feet were 
visible up to the ankle ; a tight white bodice and a black 
taffeta apron, thus she stood on the boundary between 
country girl and city girl. Slender and light, she tripped along 
as if she had nothing to carry, and her neck seemed almost 
too delicate for the large fair braids on her elegant little head. 
From cheerful blue eyes she looked very plainly round, and 
her pretty turned-up nose peered as freely into the air as if 
there could be no care in the world ; her straw hat hung on 
her arm, and thus, at the first glance, I had the delight of see 
ing her, and acknowledging her at once in all her grace and 
loveliness. 

I now began, to act my character with moderation, half 
ashamed to play a joke on such good people, whom I had time 
enough to observe : for the girls continued the previous con 
versation, and that with passion and some display of temper. 
All the neighbours and connexions were again brought for 
ward, and there seemed, to my imagination, such a swarm of 
uncles and aunts, relations, cousins, comers, goers, gossips and 
guests, that I thought myself lodged in the liveliest world pos 
sible. All the members of the family had spoken some words 
with me, the mother looked at me every time she came in or 
went out, but Frederica first entered into conversation with 
me, and as I took up and glanced through some music that 
was lying around, she asked me if I played also ? When I 
answered in the affirmative, she requested me to perform 
something ; but the father would not allow this, for he main 
tained that it was proper to serve the guest first with some 
piece of music or a song. 

She played several things with some readiness, in the style 
which one usually hears in the country, and on a harpsichord, 
too, that the schoolmaster should have tuned long since, if he 
had only had time. She was now to sing a song also, a cer 
tain tender-melancholy affair ; but she did not succeed in it. 



COMPARISON WITH THE " VIGAH OF WAKEFIELD." 375 

She rose up and said, smiling, or rather with that touch of 
serene joy which ever reposed on her countenance, " If I sing 
badly, I cannot lay the blame on the harpsichord or the school- 
master ; but let us go out of doors ; then you shall hear my 
Alsatian and Swiss songs ; they sound much better." 

During supper, a notion which had already struck me, occu 
pied me to such a degree, that I became meditative and silent, 
although the liveliness of the elder sister, and the gracefulness 
of the younger, shook me often enough out of my contempla 
tions. My astonishment at finding myself so actually in the 
"Wakefield family was beyond all expression. The father, 
indeed, could not be compared with that excellent man ; but 
where will you find his like ? On the other hand, all the dig 
nity which is peculiar to that husband, here appeared in the 
wife. One could not see her without at the same time rever 
encing and fearing her. In her were remarked the fruits of a 
good education ; her demeanour was quiet, easy, cheerful, and 
inviting. 

If the elder daughter had not the celebrated beautv of Oli- 

O _ v 

via, yet she was well-made, lively, and rather impetuous ; she 
everywhere showed herself active, and lent a helping hand to 
her mother in all things. To put Frederica in the place of 
Primrose s Sophia was not difficult ; for little is said of the 
latter, it is only taken for granted that she is amiable ; and 
this girl was amiable indeed. Now as the same occupation 
and the same situation, wherever they may occur, produce 
similar, if not the same effects, so here too many things were 
talked about, many things happened, which had already taken 
place in the Wakefield family. But when at last a younger 
son, long announced and impatiently expected by the father, 
tit last sprang into the room, and boldly sat himself down by 
us, taking but little notice of the guests, I could scarcely help 
exclaiming, " Moses, are you here too ! 

The conversation at table extended my insight into this 
country and family circle, since the discourse was about vari 
ous droll incidents which had happened now here, now there. 
Prederica, who sat by me, thence took occasion to describe to 
me different localities which it was worth while to visit. As one 
little story always calls forth another, I was able to mingle 
so much the better in the conversation, and to relate similar 
incidents, and as, besides this, a good country wine was by no 



876 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

means spared, I stood in danger of slipping out of my charac 
ter, for which reason my more prudent friend took advantage 
of the beautiful moonlight, and proposed a walk, which was 
approved at once. He gave his arm to the elder, I to the 
younger, and thus we went through the wide field, paying more 
attention to the heavens above us than to the earth, which lost 
itself in extension around us. There was, however, nothing 
of moonshine in Fredericks discourse ; by the clearness with 
which she spoke she turned night into day, and there was no 
thing in it which would have indicated or excited any feeling, 
except that her expressions related more than hitherto to me, 
since she represented to me her own situation, as well as the 
neighbourhood and her acquaintances, just as far as I should 
be acquainted with them ; for she hoped, she added, I would 
make no exception, and would visit them again, as all strangers 
had willingly done who had once stopped with them. 

It was very pleasant to me to listen silently to the descrip 
tion which she gave of the little world in which she moved, 
and of the persons whom she particularly valued. She thereby 
imparted to me a clear, and, at the same time, such an amiable 
idea of her situation, that it had a very strange effect on me ; 
for I felt at once a deep regret that I had not lived with her 
sooner, and at the same time a truly painful envious feeling 
towards all who had hitherto had the good fortune to surround 
her. I at once watched closely, as if I had a right to do so, 
all her descriptions of men, whether they appeared under the 
names of neighbours, cousins, or gossips, and my conjectures 
inclined now this way, now that ; but how could I have dis 
covered anything in my complete ignorance of all the circum 
stances ? She at last became more and more talkative, and I 
more and more silent. It was so pleasant to listen to her, 
and as I heard only her voice, while the form of her coun 
tenance, as well as the rest of the world, floated dimly in the 
twilight, it seemed to me as if I could see into her heart, 
which I could not but find very pure, since it unbosomed 
itself to me in such unembarrassed loquacity. 

When my companion retired with me into the guest-cham 
ber, which was prepared for us, he at once, with self-com 
placency, broke out into pleasant jesting, and took great 
credit to himself for having surprised me so much with the 
similarity to the Primrose family. I chimed in with him by 



COMPARISON WITH THE " VICAU OP WAKEFIELD." 377 

showing myself thankful. " Truly," cried he, " the story is quite 
complete. This family may very well be compared to that, 
and the gentleman in disguise here may assume the honour of 
passing for Mr. Burchell ; moreover, since scoundrels are not 
so necessary in common life as in novels, I will for this time 
undertake the role of the nephew, and behave myself better 
than he did." However, I immediately changed this conver 
sation, pleasant as it might be to me, and asked him, before 
all things, on his conscience, if he had not really betrayed me ? 
He answered me, " No ! " and I could believe him. They had 
rather inquired, said he, after the merry table-companion who 
boarded at the same house with him in Strasburg, and of whom 
they had been told all sorts of preposterous stuff. I now went 
to other questions : Had she ever been in love ? Was she now 
in love ? Was she engaged ? He replied to all in the nega 
tive. " In truth," replied I, " such a cheerfulness by nature 
is inconceivable to me. Had she loved and lost, and again 
recovered herself, or had she been betrothed, in both these 
cases I could account for it." 

Thus we chatted together far into the night, and I was 
awake again at the dawn. My desire to see her once more 
seemed unconquerable ; but while I dressed myself, I was 
horrified at the accursed wardrobe I had so wantonly selected. 
The further I advanced in putting on my clothes, the meaner 
I seemed in my own eyes ; for everything had been calculated 
for just this effect. My hair I might perchance have set to 
rights ; but when at last I forced myself into the borrowed, 
worn-out grey coat, and the short sleeves gave me the most 
absurd appearance, I fell the more decidedly into despair, 
as I could see myself only piecemeal, in a little looking-glass 
since one part always looked more ridiculous than the other. 

During this toilette my friend awoke, and with the satisfac 
tion of a good conscience, and in the feeling of pleasurable 
hope for the day, looked out at me from the quilted silk cover 
let. I had for a long time already envied him his fine clothes, 
as they hung over the chair, and had he been of my size, I 
would have carried them off before his eyes, changed my dress 
outside, and hurrying into the garden, left my cursed husk for 
him ; he would have had good-humour enough to put himself 
into my clothes, and the tale would have found a merry end 
ing early in the morning. But that was not now to be thought 



578 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWX LIPE. 

of, no more was any other feasible accommodation. To appear 
again before Frederica in the figure in which my friend could 
give me out as a laborious and accomplished but poor student 
of theology, before Frederica, who the evening before had 
spoken so friendly to my disguised self. that was altogether 
impossible. There I stood, vexed and thoughtful, and sum 
moned all my power of invention ; but it deserted me ! But 
now when he, comfortably stretched out, after fixing his eyes 
upon me for a while, all at once burst out into a loud laugh, 
find exclaimed, " No ! it is true, you do look most cursedly ! ; 
I replied impetuously, " And I know what I will do. Good 
bye, and make my excuses ! : "Are you mad?" cried he, 
spinging out of bed and trying to detain me. But I was 
already out of the door, down the stairs, out of the house and 
yard, off to the tavern ; in an instant my horse was saddled, 
and I hurried away in mad vexation, galloping towards Dru 
senheim, then through that place, and still further on. 

As I now thought myself in safety, I rode more slowly, 
and now first felt how infinitely against my will I was going 
away. But I resigned myself to my fate, made present to my 
mind the promenade of yesterday evening with the greatest 
calmness, and cherished the secret hope of seeing her soon 
again. But this quiet feeling soon changed itself again into 
impatience, and I now determined to ride rapidly into the 
city, change my dress, take a good, fresh horse, since then, as 
my passion made me believe, I could at all events return before 
dinner, or, as was more probable, to the dessert, or towards 
evening, and beg my forgiveness. 

I was just about to put spurs to my horse to execute this 
plan, when another, and, as seemed to me, a very happy thought, 
passed through my mind. In the tavern at Drusenheim, the 
day before, I had noticed a son of tiie landlord very nicely 
dressed, who, early this morning, being busied about his rural 
arrangements, had saluted me from his court-yard. He was 
of my figure, and had for the moment reminded me of myself. 
No sooner thought than done ! My horse was hardly turned 
round, when I found myself in Drusenheim ; I brought him 
into the stable, and in a few words made the fellow my pro 
posal, namely, that he should lend me his clothes, as I had 
something merry on foot at Sesenheim. I had no need to talk 
long ; he agreed to the proposition with joy, and praised me 



THE EXCHANGE OF CLOTHES. 379 

for wishing to make some sport for the Mamsells ; they were, 
he said, such capital people, especially Mamselle Riekchen,* 
and the parents, too, liked to see everything go on merrily and 
pleasantly. He considered me attentively, and as from my 
appearance he might have taken me for a poor starveling, 
he said, " If you wish to insinuate yourself, this is the right 
way." In the meanwhile we had already proceeded far in 
our toilette, and properly speaking he should not have trusted 
me with his holiday clothes on the strength of mine ; but he 
was honest-hearted, and, moreover, had my horse in his stable. 
I soon stood there smart enough, gave myself a consequential 
air, and my Mend seemed to regard his counterpart with 
complacency. "Topp,f Mr. Brother!" said he, giving me 
his hand, which I grasped heartily, "don t come too near 
my girl ; she might make a mistake ! " 

My hair, which had now its full growth again, I could part 
at top, much like his, and as I looked at him repeatedly, I 
found it comical moderately to imitate his thicker eyebrows 
with a burnt cork, and bring mine nearer together in the 
middle, so that with my enigmatical intentions, I might make 
myself an external riddle likewise. "Now have you not," 
said I, as he handed me his be-ribboned hat, " something or 
other to be done at the parsonage, that I might announce 
myself there in a natural manner? 1 "Good!" replied he, 
" but then you must wait two hours yet. There is a woman 
confined at our house ; I will offer to take the cake to the 
parson s wife,"! and you may carry it over. Pride must pay 
its penalty, and so must a joke." I resolved to w r ait, but 
these two hours were infinitely long, and I was dying of im 
patience when the third hour passed before the cake came out 
of the oven. At last I got it cpite hot, and hastened away 
with mv credentials in the most beautiful sunshine, accom- 

V 

panied for a distance by my counterpart, who promised to 
come after me in the evening and bring me my clothes, "f his, 
however, I briskly declined, and stipulated that I should 
deliver up to him his own. 

I had not skipped far with my present, which I carried in a 

* Abbreviation for Frederica. Trans. 

f The exclamation used on striking a bargain. It is, we believe, 
employed by some trades in England. Trans. 

J The general custom of the country villages in Protestant Germany 
on such interesting occasions. American Note. 



380 TEUTH AND POETEY ; FBOM MY OWN LIFE. 

neat tied-up napkin, when, in the distance, I saw my friend 
coming towards me with the two ladies. My heart was uneasy, 
which was certainly unsuitable under this jacket. I stood 
still, took breath, and tried to consider how I should begin ; 
and now I first remarked that the nature of the ground was 
very much in my favour ; for they were walking on the other 
side of the brook, which, together with the strips of meadow 
through which it ran, kept the two footpaths pretty far apart. 
When they were just opposite to me, Frederica, who had 
already perceived me long before, cried, " George, what are you 
bringing there ? : I was clever enough to cover my face with 
my hat, which I took off, while I held up the loaded napkin 
high in the air. " A christening cake! cried she at that; 
"how is your sister? " Well,"* said I, for I tried to talk 
in a strange dialect, if not exactly in the Alsatian. " Carry it 
to the house ! : said the elder, "and if you do not find my 
mother, give it to the maid ; but wait for us, we shall soon be 
back, do you hear?" I hastened along my path in the 
joyous feeling of the best hope that, as the beginning was so 
lucky, all would go off well, and I had soon reached the par 
sonage. I found nobody either in the house or in the kitchen ; 
I did not wish to disturb the old gentleman, whom I might 
suppose busy in the study ; I therefore sat down on the bench 
before the door, with the cake beside me, and pressed my hat 
upon my face. 

I cannot easily recall a pleasanter sensation. To sit again 
on this threshold, over which, a short time before, I had blun 
dered out in despair ; to have seen her already again, to have 
already heard again her dear voice, so soon after my chagrin 
had pictured to me a long separation, every moment to 
be expecting herself and a discovery, at which my heart 
throbbed, and yet, in this ambiguous case, a discovery with 
out shame ; for at the very beginning it was a merrier prank 
than any of those they had laughed at so much yesterday. 
Love and necessity are the best masters ; they both acted 
together here, and their pupil was not unworthy of them. 

But the maid came stepping out of the barn. " Now ! did 

the cakes turn out well ? cried she to me ; " how is your 

sister ? " All right," said I, and pointed to the cake without 

looking up. She took up the napkin and muttered, " Now, 

* In the original his answer is " Guet," for " Gut." Trans. 



GOETHE S DISGUISE. 381 

what s the matter with you to-day again ? Has Barbchen 1 ^ 
been looking again at somebody else ? Don t let us suffer for 
that! You will make a happy couple if you carry on so !" 
As she spoke pretty loud, the pastor came to the window and 
asked what was the matter. She showed him to me ; I stood up 
and turned myself towards him ; but still kept the hat over my 
face. When he had spoken somewhat friendly to me, and had 
asked me to remain, I went towards the garden, and was just 
going in, when the pastor s wife, who was entering the court 
yard gate, called to me. As the sun shone right in my face, r 
I one more availed myself of the advantage which my hat 
afforded me, and greeted her by scraping a leg ; but she went 
into the house after she had bidden me not to go away without 
eating something. I now walked up and down in the garden ; 
everything had hitherto had the best success, yet I breathed 
hard when I reflected that the young people now would soon 
return. But the mother unexpectedly stepped up to me, 
and was just going to ask me a question, when she looked me 
in the face, so that I could not conceal myself any longer, and 
the words stuck in her throat. " I am looking for George,": 
said she, after a pause, "and whom do I find? Is it you, 
young sir ? How many forms have you, then ? " In earnest 
only one," replied I; "in sport as many as you like." 
" Which sport I will not spoil," smiled she ; " go out behind 
the garden into the meadow until it strikes twelve, then come 
back, and I shall already have contrived the joke." I did so ; 
but when I was beyond the hedges of the village gardens, 
and was going along the meadows, towards me some country 
people came by the footpath, and put me in some em 
barrassment. I therefore turned aside into a little wood, 
which crowned an elevation quite near, in order to conceal 
myself there till the appointed time. Yet how strangely did 
I feel when I entered it ; for there appeared before me a neat 
place, with benches, from every one of which was a pretty 
view of the country. Here was the village and the steeple, 
here Drusenheim, and behind it the woody islands of the 
Khine ; in the opposite direction was the Vosgian mountain 
range, and at last the minster of Strasburg. These different 
heaven-bright pictures were set in bushy frames, so that one 
could see nothing more joyous and pleasing. I sat down 

* Diminutive of Barbara, Trans. 



382 TRUTH AND POETRY ; PROM MY OWN LIFE. 

upon one of the benches, and noticed on the largest tree an 
oblong little board with the inscription, " Frederick s Repose. 7 
It never occurred to me that I might have come to disturb 
this repose ; for a budding passion has this beauty about it, 
that, as it is unconscious of its origin, neither can it have 
any thought of an end, nor, while it feels itself glad and 
cheerful, have any presentiment that it may also create 
mischief. 

I had scarcely had time to look about me and was losing 
myself in sweet reveries, when I heard somebody coming ; it 
was Frederica herself. " George, what are you doing here ? : 
she cried from a distance. "Not George ! :> cried I, running 
towards her, " but one who craves forgiveness of you a thou 
sand times." She looked at me with astonishment, but soon 
collected herself, and said, after fetching her breath more 
deeply, "You abominable man, how you frighten me! 
" The first disguise has led me into the second," exclaimed I ; 
"the former would have been unpardonable if I had only 
known in any degree to whom I was going ; but this one you 
will certainly forgive, for it is the shape of persons whom you 
treat so kindly." Her pale cheeks had coloured up with the 
most beautiful rose-red. " You shall not be worse off than 
George, at any rate ! But let us sit down ! I confess the 
fright has gone into my limbs." I sat down beside her, 
exceedingly agitated. " We know everything already, up to 
this morning, from your friend," said she, "now do you tell 
me the rest." I did not let her say that twice, but described 
to her my horror at my yesterday s figure, and my rushing 
out of the house, so comically, that she laughed heartily and 
graciously ; then I went on to what followed, with all modesty, 
indeed, yet passionately enough, so that it might have passed 
for a declaration of love in historical form. At last I solem 
nized my pleasure at finding her again, by a kiss upon her 
hand, which she suffered to remain in mine. If she had taken 
upon herself the expense of the conversation during yesterday 
evening s moonlight walk, I now, on my part, richly repaid 
the debt. The pleasure of seeing her again, and being able 
to say to her everything that I had yesterday kept back, was 
so great that, in my eloquence, I did not remark how medi 
tative and silent she was. Once more she deeply fetched her 
breath, and over and over again I begged her forgiveness for 



" FKEDERICA S KEPOSE." 303 

the fright which I had caused her. How long we may have 
sat I know not ; but at once we heard some one call. It was 
the voice of her sister. " That will be a pretty story," said 
the dear girl, restored to her perfect cheerfulness ; " she is 
coming hither on my side," she added, bending so as half to 
conceal me ; " turn yourself away, so that you may not be 
recognised at once." The sister entered the place, but not 
alone ; Weyland was with her, and both, when they saw us, 
stood still, as if petrified. 

If we should all at once see a flame burst out violently from 
a quiet roof, or should meet a monster whose deformity was at 
the same time revolting and fearful, we should not be struck 
with such a fierce horror as that which seizes us when, unex 
pectedly, we see with our own eyes what we have believed 
morailj impossible. "What is this?" cried the elder, witli 
the rapidity of one who is frightened; " what is this? you with 
George, hand- in-hand ! How am I to understand this? 
" Dear sister," replied Frederica, very doubtfully, " the poor 
fellow, he is begging something of me ; he has something to 
beg of you, too, but you must forgive him beforehand." "I do 
not understand I do not comprehend " said her sister, shak 
ing her head and looking at Weyland, who, in his quiet way, 
stood by in perfect tranquillity, and contemplated the scene- 
without any kind of expression. Frederica arose and drew me 
after her. " No hesitating ! " cried she ; " pardon begged and 
granted! : " Now do ! said I, stepping pretty near the elder ; 
* I have need of pardon! She drew back, gave a loud 
shriek, and was covered with blushes ; she then threw herself 
down on the grass, laughed immoderately, and seemed as if she 
would never have done. Weyland smiled as if pleased, and 
cried, " You are a rare youth ! Then he shook my hand in 
his. He was not usually liberal with his caresses, but his shake 
of the hand had something hearty and enlivening about it ; yet 
he was sparing of this also. 

After somewhat recovering and collecting ourselves, we set 
out on our return to the village. On the way I learned how 
this singular meeting had been occasioned. Frederica had at. 
last parted from the promenaders to rest herself in her little 
nook for a moment before dinner, and when the other tvva 
came back to the house, the mother had sent them to call Fre 
derica with as great haste as possible, because dinner was. 
ready. 



384 TRUTH AND POETRY; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

The elder sister manifested the most extravagant delight, and 
when she learned that the mother had already discovered the 
secret, she exclaimed, " Now we have still to deceive my 
father, my brother, the servant-man and the maid." When we 
were at the garden-hedge, Frederica insisted upon going first 
into the house with my friend. The maid was busy in the 
kitchen-garden, and Olivia (so let the elder sister be named 
here) called out to her, " Stop ; I have something to tell you ! " 
She left me standing by the hedge, and went to the maid. I 
saw that they were speaking very earnestly. Olivia repre 
sented to her that George had quarrelled with Barbara, and 
seemed desirous of marrying her. The lass was not displeased 
at this ; I was now called, and was to confirm what had been 
said. The pretty, stout girl cast down her eyes, and remained 
so until I stood quite near before her. But when, all at once, 
she perceived the strange face, she too gave a loud scream and 
ran away. Olivia bade me run after her and hold her fast, so 
that she should not get into the house and make a noise ; while 
she herself wished to go and see how it was with her father. 
On the way Olivia met the servant-boy, who was in love with 
the maid ; I had in the mean time hurried after the maid, and 
held her fast. " Only think ! what good luck ! " cried Olivia ; 
" it s all over with Barbara, and George marries Liese." " That 
I have thought for a long while," said the good fellow, and 
remained standing in an ill-humour. 

I had given the maid to understand that all we had to do 
was to deceive the father. We went up to the lad, who turned 
away and tried to withdraw ; but Liese brought him back, and 
he, too, when he was undeceived, made the most extraordinary 
gestures. We went together to the house. The table was 
covered, and the father was already in the room. Olivia, who 
kept me behind her, stepped to the threshold and said, 
" Father, have you any objection to George dining with us to 
day ? but you must let him keep his hat on." " With all my 
heart !" said the old man, " but why such an unusual thing? 
Has he hurt himself ? : She led me forward as I stood with 
my hat on. " No ! " said she, leading me into the room, " but 
he has a bird-cage under it, and the birds might fly out and 
make a deuce of a fuss ; for there are nothing but wild ones." 
The father was pleased with the joke, without precisely know 
ing what it meant. At this instant she took off my hat, made 



GOETHE S DISGUISE. 385 

a scrape, and required me to do the same. The old man looked 
at me and recognised me, but was not put out of his priestly 
self-possession. " Aye, aye, Mr. Candidate ! exclaimed he, 
raising a threatening finger at me ; " you have changed saddles 
very quickly, and in the night I have lost an assistant, who 
yesterday promised me so faithfully that he would often mount 
my pulpit on week-days." He then laughed heartily, bade me 
welcome, and we sat down to table. Moses came in much 
later ; for, as the youngest spoiled child, he had accustomed 
himself not to hear the dinner-bell. Besides, he took very 
little notice of the company, scarcely even when he contra 
dicted them. In order to be more sure of him, they had 
placed me, not between the sisters, but at the end of the table, 
where George often used to sit. As he came in at the door 
behind me, he slapped me smartly on the shoulder, and said, 
"Good dinner to you, George! "Many thanks, squire ! : 
replied I. The strange voice and the strange face startled him. 
" What say you ? cried Olivia ; " does he not look very like 
his brother? "Yes, from behind," replied Moses, who 
managed to recover his composure immediately, " like all 
folks." He did not look at me again, and merely busied him 
self with zealously devouring the dishes, to make up for lost 
time. Then, too, he thought proper to rise on occasion and 
find something to do in the yard and the garden. At the des 
sert the real George came in, and made the whole scene still 
more lively. They began to banter him for his jealousy, and 
would not praise him for getting rid of a rival in me ; but he 
was modest and clever enough, and, in a half- confused manner, 
mixed up himself, his sweetheart, his counterpart, and the 
Mamsells with each other, to such a degree, that at last nobody 
could tell about whom he was talking, and they were but too 
glad to let him consume in peace a glass of wine and a bit of 
his own cake. 

At table there was some talk about going to walk ; which, 
however, did not suit me very well in my peasant s clothes. 
But the ladies, early on that day already, when they learned 
who had run away in such a desperate hurry, had remembered 
that a fine hunting-coat ( Pehesche) of a cousin of theirs, in 
which, when there, he used to go sporting, was hanging in the 
clothes-press. I, however, declined it, externally with all sorts 
of jokes, but internally with a feeling of vanity, not wishing, 

2 c 



386 TRUTH AND POETRY ; FROM MY OWN LIFE. 

as the cousin, to disturb the good impression I had made as 
the peasant. The father had gone to take his afternoon-nap ; 
the mother, as always, was busy about her housewifery. But 
my friend proposed that I should tell them some story, to which 
I immediately agreed. We went into a spacious arbour, and I 
gave them a tale which I have since written out under the title 
of The New Melusina.* It bears about the same relation to 
The Neiv Paris as the youth bears to the boy, and I would 
insert it here, were I not afraid of injuring, by odd piaj^s of 
fancy, the rural reality and simplicity which here agreeably 
surround us. Enough : I succeeded in gaming the reward of 
the inventors and narrators of such productions, namely, in 
awakening curiosity, in fixing the attention, in provoking over- 
hasty solutions of impenetrable riddles, in deceiving expecta 
tions, in confusing by the more wonderful which came into the 
place of the wonderful, in arousing sympathy and fear, in 
causing anxiety, in moving, and at last, by the change of what 
was apparently earnest into an ingenious and cheerful jest, in 
satisfying the mind, and in leaving the imagination materials 
for new images, and the understanding materials for further 
reflection. 

Should any one hereafter read this tale in print, and doubt 
whether it could have produced such an effect, let him remem 
ber that, properly speaking, man is only called upon to act in 
the present. Writing is an abuse of language, reading silently 
to oneself is a pitiful substitute for speech. Man effects all he 
can upon man by his personality, youth is most powerful upon 
youth, and hence also arise the purest influences. It is these 
which enliven the world, and allow it neither morally nor phy 
sically to perish. I had inherited from my father a certain 
didactic loquacity ; from my mother the faculty of represent 
ing, clearly and forcibly, everything that the imagination can 
produce or grasp, of giving a freshness to known stories, of 
inventing and relating others, nay, of inventing in the course 
of narration. By my paternal endowment I w r as for the most 
part annoying to the company ; for who likes to listen to the 
opinions and sentiments of another, especially a youth, whose 
judgment, from defective experience, always seems insufficient? 
My mother, on the contrary, had thoroughly qualified me for 
social conversation. The emptiest tale has in itself a high 
* This is introduced in. Wilhdm Meister s Wanderjahre. Trans. 



THE " NEW MELUSINA." 387 

charm for the imagination, and the smallest quantity of solid 
matter is thankfully received by the understanding. 

By such recitals, which cost me nothing, I made myself be 
loved by children, excited and delighted youth, and drew upon 
myself the attention of older persons. But in society, such as 
it commonly is, I was soon obliged to stop these exercises, and 
I have thereby lost but too much of the enjoyment of life and 
of free mental advancement. Nevertheless both these parental 
gifts accompanied me throughout my whole life, united with a 
third, namely, the necessity of expressing myself figuratively 
and by comparisons. In consideration of these peculiarities, 
which the acute and ingenious Doctor Gall discovered in me 
according to his theory, he assured me that I was, properly 
speaking, born for a popular orator. At this disclosure I was 
not a little alarmed; for if it had been here well founded, 
evervthinor that I undertook would have Droved a failure, from 

* JL 

the fact that with my nation there was nothing to harangue 
about. 



PART THE THIRD. 



CARE IS TAKEN THAT TREES DO NOT GROW INTO THE SKYe 



ELEVENTH BOOK. 

AFTEB I had, in that bower of Sesenheim, finished my tale, 
in which the ordinary and the impossible were so agreeably 
alternated, I perceived that my hearers, who had already 
shown peculiar sympathy, were now enchanted in the highest 
degree by my singular narrative. They pressed me urgently 
to write down the talc, that they might often repeat it by 
reading it among themselves, and to others. I promised this 
the more willingly, as I thus hoped to gain a pretext for 
repeating my visit, and for an opportunity of forming a closer 
connexion. The party separated for a moment, and all were 
inclined to feel that after a day spent in so lively a manner, 
the evening might fall rather flat. From this anxiety I was 
freed by my friend, who asked permission to take leave at 
once, in the name of us both, because, as an industrious acade 
mical citizen, regular in his studies, he wished to pass the night 
at Drusenheim, and to be early in the morning at Strasburg. 

We both reached our night- quarters in silence ; I, because 
I felt a grapple on my heart, which drew me back ; he, be 
cause he had something else on his mind, which he told me 
as soon as we had arrived. " It is strange," he began, " that 
you should just hit upon this tale. Did not you remark that 
it made quite a peculiar impression? "Nay," answered I, 
" how could I help observing that the elder one laughed more 
than was consistent at certain passages, that the younger 
one shook her head, that all of you looked significantly at 
each other, and that you yourself were nearly put out of 
countenance. I do not deny that I almost felt embarrassed 
myself, for it struck me that it was perhaps improper to tell 
the dear girls a parcel of stuff, of which they had better been. 



I 



KETTTR1T TO STEASBTTRG. 389 

ignorant, and to give them such a bad opinion of the male sex 
as they must naturally have formed from the character of the 
hero." " You have not hit it at all," said he, " and, indeed, 
how should you ? These dear girls are not so unacquainted 
with such matters as you imagine, for the great society around 
them gives occasion for many reflections ; and there happens 
to be, on the other side of the Rhine, exactly such a married 
pair as you describe, allowing a little for fancy and exaggera 
tion ; the husband just as tall, sturdy, and heavy, the wife 
so pretty and dainty, that he could easily hold her in his 
hand. Their mutual position in other respects, their history 
altogether, so exactly accords with your tale, that the girls 
seriously asked me whether you knew the persons, and de 
scribed them in jest. I assured them that you did not, and 
you will do well to let the tale remain unwritten. With the 
assistance of delays and pretexts, we may soon find an excuse." 

I was much astonished, for